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Imagining exile in Leila Chudori’s novel Pulang and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s Novel Amba

posted on 2023-05-24, 04:45 authored by Pamela AllenPamela Allen

Ever since the “beginning” of modern Indonesian literature in the early 20th century, Indonesian writers have engaged with the project of creating and defining Indonesian identity, an endeavour that developed out of the nationalist movement. Literature has come to be understood as being not merely a product for consumption and entertainment, but as being a significant part of the project of nation building. Most serious fiction writers have engaged both with the mission of creating a new literature and with questioning issues of national identity.

This chapter will investigate representations in two works of recent Indonesian literature of events that stemmed from the purges, killings and imprisonments in 1965–1966 of hundreds of thousands of Communist Party members and sympathisers, following the attempted coup of 30 September 1965. In Indonesia, for more than thirty years it was not possible to speak openly of these events, which changed the course of modern Indonesian history. The militarist regime of President Soeharto imposed its own version of the events and silenced alternative discourses, characterising 1965 as Indonesia’s rescue from the threatening power of Communism. As Connerton asserts (1989, 14), such historical reconstruction can “give significant shape to the memory of social groups”, using the method of “organized forgetting”. Sontag (2003, 76) describes such a kind of collective memory as “not a remembering but a stipulating: that this is important, and this is the story about how it happened …”


Publication title

Traditions Redirecting Contemporary Indonesian Cultural Productions


J van der Putten, M Arnez, EP Wieringa, and A Graf






School of Humanities


Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Place of publication

United Kingdom



Rights statement

Copyright 2017 Jan van der Putten, Monika Arnez, Edwin P. Wieringa, Arndt Graf and contributors

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