Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

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The Conspicuous Face of Punishment: Spectatorship as a Mode of Governance in the Context of Public Caning in Aceh, Indonesia
Febi R. Ramadhan

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 522
Date: 2019-07-25 03:00 PM – 04:30 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


As a province that has been granted the authority to implement Islamic law in Indonesia, the province of Aceh has a distinctive criminal law codification called Qanun Jinayat. In this paper, I explore the performance of public caning to investigate the role of its spectators in furthering state’s mode of governance toward individuals who violate Qanun Jinayat. Following the expression of excitement by the spectators during the caning, I argue that the spectators are not merely become the target of state’s deterrence, but rather actively involved in the act of punishing. Moreover, given that participation of the spectatorship is not mandatory, I convey that the spectators should be understood as deliberate moral subjects. Therefore, I argue that the government of Aceh is not the only actor in punishing the individuals who violate Qanun Jinayat; the spectators also have a role in spatializing the punitive space. In this paper, I contend that the pervasive act of punishing driven by the embodied entanglement between Islamic criminal jurisprudence and a particular moral framework, in which Qanun Jinayat corresponds to both of them. Lastly, by situating morality as the heart of the analysis, I intend to reverberate the contemporary discussion of ethical turn in anthropology, particularly by looking at the interconnection between morality, religion, punishment, and governance.