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KCI등재 학술저널

Indonesian Nationalism in Three Acts: The Intertwined Narratives of National Identity and the Subaltern Woman in Three Iconic Indonesian Novels

This article examines the evolution of the intertwined narratives of nation and womanhood in three iconic Indonesian novels: Belenggu (1940), Sri Sumarah (1975), and Durga Umayi (1991), each of which, respectively, depicts female protagonists wrestling with life challenges during three different historical epochs of the Indonesian nation-state. I argue that these novels portray three distinct conceptions of an evolving Indonesian nationalism as reflected through the struggles of these characters. The first of these, Belenggu, highlights the hybrid nature of emerging Indonesian nationalism through the symbolic deployment of hybrid music–keroncong–as a central trope. The second novel, Sri Sumarah, depicts the culturally idealized qualities of a submissive woman–embodied in its titular character–and the gendered nature of nationalism. The third, Durga Umayi, kaleidoscopically maps the biography of its heroine onto the triumphs and defeats of the nation as experienced from the perspective of the subaltern subject, thus depicting the project of nation-building as seen, experienced, and lived from an inferior social position. Taken together these three novels dramatize three different stages of Indonesia as “imagined community”: from the promise and the peril of the early years as an emerging nation-state, to its division along ideological lines before and after the 1965 coup, and ultimately to the failed promises attending the spread of neoliberalism and globalization in subsequent decades.

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