Young Banyumasan Street Traders as Shapeshifters of Modernity: Refreshment, Production, and the Pursuit of Pranks and Jokes in Jakarta
Banyumasan Javanese people of Indonesia are often revered as funnier than other Javanese. Ethnographic accounts herein illuminate how young, Banyumasan street traders in Jakarta perform and participate in laughing, joking, and pranking at work. Intersectional analysis reveals the utility of joking and pranking as heuristics to understand the affective dimensions of status, stigmatization, migrating for work, and growing up in Indonesia. The polysemic nature of jokes and pranks reference camaraderie and othering, incongruities and expectations, agency and oppression, as well as intersubjective relations between young men at work. This view of Banyumasan street traders as urban jokers and jesters, producing and consuming humour “from below” for and about each other, departs from previous scholarship on humour in Java, which has focused on how clown characters in staged shadow puppet (wayang kulit) performances have asserted and perpetuated inequalities through a refined-unrefined (halus-kasar) binary whereby those deemed kasar are seen as lacking something. This article, in contrast, asserts the utility of jokes and pranks to refreshing and regenerating understandings of kasar, what it is to be human, and the temporalities, spatialities, and intersubjectivities of boys growing up and working in Indonesia’s street economy.