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Indonesia (Source: Katherine McGregor and Ruth Rahayu 2023 “Umi Sadjono (1923-2011) and the Quest to Build a New Society for Indonesian Women” in The Palgrave Handbook of Communist Women Activists around the World ed. by Francisca de Haan  p.382)

This week features Siti Rukiah (1927-1996)’s The Star and the Fall. It is very hard to find literary works and women writers active in the heyday of anti-colonial, anti-imperial, anti-feudal movements with socialist influence in Indonesia. Indonesia is a leading nation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and hosted the Bandung conference in 1955, a milestone of the movement with the participation of 29 countries that represent half of the world population at that moment. Simultaneously, Indonesia carries the history of mass killing of communists in 1965-66, which is one of the largest massacres of communists in the 20th century--extermination of 400, 000 communists and incarceration of 100,000--which is still suppressed domestically and hardly known internationally. That was the political time when Gerwani (1950-1965), the largest Indonesian women’s organization influential among peasants women with 3 million membership was eliminated along with PKI (Communist Party of Indonesia). Gerwani is also affiliated with WIDF, convincing western members of WIDF that Third World women’s facing of colonialism as part of anti-fascism and a top priority of WIDF. Gerwani leaders’ speeches in Indonesian are archived in a few locations but not yet in English (See McGregor and Rahayu on Umi Sardjono 1923-2011, a Gerwani leader). Few leftist Indonesian woman writers were active in that era or survived the time, not to mention their pieces are introduced in English. Siti Rukiah is exceptional because she was acclaimed back then by leftist male writers, such as, Pramoedya Toer, the Indonesian writer who was invited in AAWC conference and signatory to Indonesian modern literature. And her first novel Kedjatuhan dan hati (1950) is translated in English as The Star and the Fall (2010). If Umi Sardjono’s speeches or a novel written by Sulami, another Gerwani leader, is translated into English, it would be great to read them together with The Star and the Fall.


Primary text

Siti Rukiah’s Kedjatuhan dan Hati (The Fall and the Heart)

Secondary texts

Wirawan, Yerry. 2018. “Independent Woman in Postcolonial Indonesia: Rereading the Works of Rukiah” Southeast Asian Studies 7(1):85-101

McGregor, Katharine and Ruth Indiah Rahayu. 2023. “Umi Sardjono (1923-2011) and the Quest to Build a New Society for Indonesian Women” The Palgrave Handbook of Communist Women Activists around the World. Spring Nature: Palgrave McMillan. Pp.377-398.

Week 2 - Indonesia