You are here: Home Participants Doctoral Candidates Melanie V. Nertz
Document Actions

Melanie V. Nertz

Phd candidate

Phone: 0049-761/203-9328
E-Mail melanie.nertz[at]
PhD project (working title): "Occidentalisms in a Globalizing World: Negotiating 'Western' and 'Islamic' Frames of Reference on Java and Sulawesi, Indonesia"  


Melanie V. Nertz, born 1982, studied Cultural and Social Anthropology and Islamic Studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany. In addition to writing a final thesis for her M. A. degree in 2009, she authored and contributed an article to Prof. Dr. Judith Schlehe's edited volume: “Menuju pendidikan global?: membandingkan Budaya Akademik Indonesia dan Jerman" ("Towards global education?: Indonesian and German academic cultures compared”, Yogyakarta : Penerbit Kanisius, 2008). Her research activities focus on Islam and education on the island of Java, Indonesia, and are part  of an international research collaboration between the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Freiburg and the Faculty of Cultural Science at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.  This transnational cooperative effort began in 2006 and is an integral aspect of  Ms. Nertz's ongoing research.


Research Projects

The Knowledge of the "West" in Contemporary Indonesia: Anthropological Research in Rural and Urban Spaces on Java and Sulawesi



Occidentalisms in a Globalizing World: Negotiating 'Western' and 'Islamic' Frames of Reference on Java and Sulawesi, Indonesia

PhD candidate: Melanie V. Nertz, M.A.
Department: Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Field research period: 30.07.2010-26.04.2011


Three decades ago Edward W. Said stated critically in Orientalism (1978) that the `Occident´– the `West´ – constructs images of the `Orient´ – the `East´ – that are opposed to the `Self´ and so reproduces essentialist images reaching from its representation as exotic or mysterious till primitive or violent. Recently not only occurrences like September 11th, 2001 and postulates like the “clash of civilizations” made by Samuel P. Huntington (1996), but also a general growth of worldwide interrelations affecting all aspects of life and society, have contributed to an increased public interest in how the `West´ is perceived by the `East´ and in particular how the `West´ is perceived by `Islam´.

Globalization, understood as intensified flows of people, goods, money, information, images, ideologies and technology, is part of Indonesia’s reality as well. This intensification demands new conceptualizations of `Selves´ contextualized by a variety of `Others´, because what is referred to as the `Other´ might differ in several situations. Simultaneously, current conceptualizations of the `West´, `Asia´, `Islam´ and the `global world´ are re-negotiated, raising the question, what local knowledge of the `West´ comprises and how the `West´ is seen, interpreted and evaluated in the context of a country that has the world’s largest Muslim population and in which presently increasing tendencies of Islamization can be observed.

The intended research explores and differentiates the various existing attitudes towards the `West´ held by contemporary Muslim Indonesians, thereby referring to globalization theories and the incrementally and heterogeneously debated concept of occidentalism.

An ethnographic approach that encompasses nine months of fieldwork will on the one hand examine direct experiences of Indonesians gained in the `West´ or from the contact with `Westerners´ as well as the established knowledge of the `West.´ On the other hand it will explore how indirect reception (e.g. media systemology) shapes imaginations of the `West´, and finally consider how the knowledge of and associations with the `West´ mould concrete action in Indonesia. Dealing with these issues, the research aims furthermore to grasp the interconnectedness between existing ideas and images of the `West´ and the respectively relevant concepts of the `Self´, focusing on the question whether the `Self´ is defined as `Islamic´ or not and if so, what attitudes towards the `West´ arise from this.

As part of a broader DFG-funded research project of the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology of Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg on “The Knowledge of the `West´ in Indonesia” and connected to an interdisciplinary associated project titled “Beyond Occidentalism: Concepts of the `West´ in Asia”, the single research introduced here will be concentrated mostly on the cities of Makassar, South Sulawesi and Yogyakarta, Central Java, as well as their rural surroundings. Besides that, occasional stays in other cities such as Manado, North Sulawesi, will be included for comparison too.

Personal tools