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Inside the Economy of Appearances

Inside the Economy of Appearances Public Culture 12(1): 115–144 Copyright © 2000 by Duke University Press Public Culture This essay brings us back to the months just before Indonesia so drastically changed, to canoe at the running edge of what turned out to be a waterfall, and thus to think about a set of incidents that can be imagined as a rehearsal for the Asian financial crisis as well as a minor participant in the international disillusion that led to the Suharto regime’s downfall. In 1994 a small Canadian gold prospecting company announced a major find in the forests of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Over the months, the find got bigger and bigger, until it was the biggest gold strike in the world, conjuring memories of the Alaskan Klondike and South Africa’s Witwatersrand. Thousands of North American investors put their savings in the company, called Bre-X. First-time investors and retired people joined financial wizards. Whole towns in western Canada invested.2 The new world of Internet investment blossomed with Bre-X. Meanwhile, Bre-X received continuous coverage in North American newspapers, especially after huge Canadian mining companies and Indonesian officials entered the fray, fighting over the rights to mine Busang, Bre-X’s find.3 The scandal of Indonesian business-as1. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Public Culture Duke University Press

Inside the Economy of Appearances

Public Culture , Volume 12 (1) – Jan 1, 2000

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2000 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0899-2363
eISSN
1527-8018
DOI
10.1215/08992363-12-1-115
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Public Culture 12(1): 115–144 Copyright © 2000 by Duke University Press Public Culture This essay brings us back to the months just before Indonesia so drastically changed, to canoe at the running edge of what turned out to be a waterfall, and thus to think about a set of incidents that can be imagined as a rehearsal for the Asian financial crisis as well as a minor participant in the international disillusion that led to the Suharto regime’s downfall. In 1994 a small Canadian gold prospecting company announced a major find in the forests of Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Over the months, the find got bigger and bigger, until it was the biggest gold strike in the world, conjuring memories of the Alaskan Klondike and South Africa’s Witwatersrand. Thousands of North American investors put their savings in the company, called Bre-X. First-time investors and retired people joined financial wizards. Whole towns in western Canada invested.2 The new world of Internet investment blossomed with Bre-X. Meanwhile, Bre-X received continuous coverage in North American newspapers, especially after huge Canadian mining companies and Indonesian officials entered the fray, fighting over the rights to mine Busang, Bre-X’s find.3 The scandal of Indonesian business-as1.

Journal

Public CultureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2000

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