Social movements, social media, and historic landscapes: an Indonesian case study

A/Prof Tod Jones1, Transpiosa Riomandha2, Hairus Salim3

1Curtin University, Perth, Australia

2LIKE Indonesia, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

3Institute for the Study of Islam and Society (LKIS), Yogyakarta, Indonesia


The International Telecommunication Union estimates 51.2 percent of the global population used the internet in 2018. While geographers have commented on half the world’s population living in cities, we have remained quiet on this faster transformation of our engagements with our environments.  This paper analyses how the affordances of social media open up new ways of being in landscapes through the ways they direct flows of attention, people, and resources, consequently entangling us in new ways with our world. We focus on a social movement in Indonesia. BOL BRUTU is a Yogyakarta-based heritage collective, active on Facebook between 2009 and 2018, that organised trips to marginal heritage sites. Using interviews, a survey, participant observation, and analysis of online discussions, we examine how the affordances social media offers to social movements contribute to making landscapes. The paper explores: the social and political context and opportunities; the use and dynamics of digital photographs and comments; the importance of social media to movements’ internal dynamics; online-offline activities; the affordances and limits of social media platforms; and the role of social media in transforming postcolonial landscapes because of their use by social movements to shape new ways of inhabiting them.


Tod Jones is an Associate Professor in Geography in the School of Design and Built Environment at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia.  Tod’s research interests are cultural and political geographies in Australia and Indonesia, in particular bringing contemporary geography approaches to cultural economy and heritage issues. His current projects are on Indigenous heritage and urban planning, social movements and heritage, and applying a sustainable livelihoods approach to assess heritage initiatives.



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