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Nationalism, essentialism and the yearning for national 'wholeness': Post-colonial constructions of 'nation' in Indonesia


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Allen, PM 2001 , 'Nationalism, essentialism and the yearning for national 'wholeness': Post-colonial constructions of 'nation' in Indonesia', in Roy Starrs (ed.), Asian Nationalism in an Age of Globalization , Curzon Press, Surrey, UK, pp. 306-315.

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Post-colonialist narratives have tended to reject the idea of nationalism as a totalising discourse and to allow for it to encompass a number of different - even competing - ideologies. In late 1990s Indonesia, however, in the midst of what some saw as the "Balkanisation" of the nation, essentialist nationalism still appeared to occupy a significant space. Take for example the August 1997 editorial of the journal media karya budaya, which asked its readers to consider the difficulty of ... encouraging (our children) to forsake McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts and go back to Nyonya Suharti's fried chicken or Palembang fish cakes. When everything that smacks of being "Indonesian" is marginalised, can we still in all sincerity, in our 17 August ceremonies, give honour to the sacrifice made by our national heroes who died in the battle against colonialism and who returned Indonesia to her people? It is a plea that seeks to privilege an "authentic" form of nationalist sentiment over the vulgar commercialism of globalisation, and to achieve an identity 'uncontaminated by universalist or Eurocentric concepts and images'. (During 1988, 114)
My paper examines a particular manifestation of this yearning for national wholeness: the concern with what Boehmer (1993, 273) calls 'maternal plenitude'.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Allen, PM
Keywords: nationalism, globalization, Indonesia, Megawati
Publisher: Curzon Press
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