Discrepancy Between the Public and the Private Selves of Indonesian Women

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This study investigates Indonesian women’s public and private representations of identity in the New Order period, in the form of published autobiographies and unpublished diaries collected during fieldwork. During the New Order era (1967-1998), the government tried to indoctrinate the conservative ideas about gender using various channels. While autobiographies published in New Order Indonesia did not have the freedom to challenge the authoritative eye, those women who did publish such works are still seen as exerting their own individuality and criticizing, however indirectly, the social conditions surrounding them. In the unpublished diaries considered, though the authors are more vocal in their transgression, the reflection of patriarchal values in Indonesia can still be discovered.


“This book by Soe Tjen Marching is a fascinating exploration of how Indonesian women express their identity in personal diaries and published autobiographies. It is a most original endeavor and pathbreaking piece of work.” - Dr. Susan Blackburn, Assistant Professor, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Monash Unviersity - Australia

“Dr Marching’s book provides a rich account of recent literary representations of Indonesian women by Indonesian women, during the New Order era ... Dr Marching’s book is an important contribution to a deeper study of the impact of the New Order on the construction of the modern Indonesian woman’s identity.” - Dr. Joost Cote, Senior Lecturer, School of Social & International Studies, Deakin University - Australia

“Dr. Marching’s research unearths hidden women’s voices from the diaries she obtained. She examines what they had to say as well as what the women in the autobiographies conveyed and questions Indonesian women’s experiences ... in the light of New Order gender ideology and its paternalistic nature.” – Professor Tineke Hellwig, University of British Columbia

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 The Evolution of Identity and Cultural Origin in Indonesian Life Writing
3 The Reader of Indonesian Women’s Autobiographies and Diaries: Between the Public and Private Self
4 Women’s Individuality: Self-Importance and Ambition
5 The Government and Its Institutions as Readers
6 The State and Political Ideology as Readers in Diaries
7 Indonesian Women’s Sexuality in Published Autobiographies
8 The Expression of Sexual and Romantic Passion in Unpublished Diaries
9 Women’s Power in Negotiating Social Constructions
10 Conclusion
Appendix: List of Autobiographies and Diaries

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