Episode 43: Rhizomatic Collectivism (w/ Rosalia Namsai Engchuan)

Hey everyone. Summer is soon to be upon us, although the future seems slightly less joyous. I keep releasing these episodes but I do wonder what exactly they are doing in contrast to these times affected by COVID-19. I hope you as listeners are taking care of yourselves and don’t feel the capitalistic need to produce in order to live, a comment made by my friend Carol Zou, who was also a previous guest of this show. So in these times, just make sure you can find some space for yourself.

For today, I have an older recording with Rosalia Namsai Engchuan, a social anthropologist and filmmaker I met in Berlin. Rosalia holds an MA in Modern South and Southeast Asian Studies from Humboldt University and a BA in Asian Studies and Management from Hochschule Konstanz. Currently she is pursuing a PHD at the Max Planck Institute. Her research is concerned with the roots and becoming of the larger ecosystem of independent film communities in Indonesia, shamanism and technology on film sets, and the politics of nation building from the grassroots and its manifestation in a very particular Indonesian aesthetic.

I had some free time to visit Rosalia this past winter and was able to meet her in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for a week. I didn’t know Rosalia’s schedule at the time and did not know if I would have the chance to interview her so I didn’t bring my audio equipment. But a time did present itself and I ended up recording on my phone in a room next to a small alley, which seemed favored by some motorcyclists, and near a mosque, which had its call to prayer in the middle of our interview. So needless to say, there are a few sounds that pop up as we chat. Our conversation meanders through different forms of knowledge, the mindsets of collectivism, and anthropology 101, all through the lens of two westernized Asians. This trip was my first real introduction to Indonesia, so I apologize for my lack of prior knowledge in the country. My goal was not to try to exotify the culture and instead come from one of learning and curiosity. Of course, such lines can easily be blurred and I hope it comes across more of the latter than former. In any case, stay safe. Stay healthy. And I hope you enjoy this.

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