Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Stewart M. Hoover

Second Advisor

Andrew Calabrese

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Skewes

Fourth Advisor

Nabil Echchaibi

Fifth Advisor

Sanyu Mojola


With a population of more than 255 million, Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other country in the world, but it is a secular state with five officially sanctioned religions. Beginning in the late 1980s, Muslim aspirations and Islamic revivalism have taken a central position in the country and the nation has increasingly become an Islamic society.

Within this changing political and cultural landscape, HIV/AIDS entered the public discourse in 1983. The HIV epidemic in the archipelago is concentrated among injecting drug users (IDU), sex workers, their clients, their clients’ partners, and to a lesser extent, men who have sex with men. Although national HIV prevalence is still low (0.16%), there has been a rapid increase in reported cumulative AIDS cases, making the epidemic in Indonesia one of the fastest growing in Asia. Despite the shift in news about the disease and the medical breakthrough over the past thirty years, HIV continues to be highly stigmatized and perceived as a “sinful disease”.

To understand the persisting discourse and how knowledge about HIV/AIDS is produced and disseminated in Indonesia, it is necessary to look at how the dominant Islamic values embedded in the society’s vernacular and official rhetoric shape and condition the way people think about HIV/AIDS. Building on Foucault’s (1980) theory on the production of knowledge and Mahmood’s (2005) politics of piety, in this project I analyzed two public policies, namely Broadcast Guidelines and Regulations and The Global Fund Funding Policy, shaping HIV/AIDS knowledge production in Indonesia. In addition, I examined three organizations, which through their everyday activism exercised resistance against public perception of HIV/AIDS.

Using textual analysis, participation observations and interviews, what this project demonstrates is that agency emerges through an analysis of the particular concepts that enable specific modes of being and effectivity. Every institution examined in this project showed that what may appear to be a case of passivity or docility in the context of HIV/AIDS knowledge production in Indonesia is a form of agency or a capacity for action that specific relations of subordination create and enable.