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Women on the margins : an alternative to Kodrat?

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Curnow, HM (2007) Women on the margins : an alternative to Kodrat? PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

During New Order Indonesia (1966 — 1998) women's roles were officially defined by the
Panca Darma Wanita (The Five Duties of Women). Based on traditional notions of
womanhood, these duties were used by the Indonesian State to restrict women's
activities to the private sphere, that is, the family and domesticity. Linked with the Five
Duties was kodrat wanita (women's destiny), an unofficial code of conduct, loosely
based on biological determinism. Kodrat wanita became a benchmark by which women
were measured during this period, and to a large extent this code is still valid today. In
this thesis, I have analyzed female characters in Indonesian literature with specific
identities that are on the periphery of this dominant discourse.
The thesis comprises an introduction, six chapters, a conclusion and a bibliography. I
preface each chapter with a brief historical and theoretical context.
The first chapter (1) analyzes a mythological figure, the sorceress Calon Arang and her
metamorphosis in literature over the last 50 years. Further chapters are devoted to (2)
Selir (minor wives of Javanese aristocracy) and Nyai (indigenous concubines during the
Dutch colonial period); (3) Ritual dancers (ronggeng or tayub); (4) Prostitutes; and (5)
Lesbians. The implications of silence, madness and death for female characters are
discussed in the final chapter of the thesis (6).
In each chapter, I undertake a feminist reading of specific literary texts that feature the
women I have categorized; discussing the markers of their marginality such as origins,
rites of passage, dress and occupation of physical and social space, their agency and/or
resistance to dominant patriarchal agendas, and the outcomes of their positions on the
margins of society.
In terms of chronological parameters, I have looked at images of indigenous women in
selected works of Dutch colonial literature (1892 — 1954), and in Indonesian literature
from 1896 — 1998. Finally, I have drawn on recent works by post-New Order young
writers (1998 — 2005) that transgress the boundaries of propriety implied by the kodrat
wanita code.
As Catherine Belsey argues in her analyses of Sherlock Holmes stories by Conan Doyle,
even the most shadowy and peripheral of feminine presences may succeed in disrupting the most logical of male narratives based on reason and scientific transparency. It is
these female presences, specifically those on the periphery of kodrat wanita, which I
seek to identify and bring to the centre of attention and analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Women, Indonesian literature, Women in literature, Women
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2007 the author

Additional Information:

Available for library use only and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2007. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Calon Arang: master narrative or witch power? -- Ch. 2. Consorts, concubines and courtesans -- Ch. 3. Dancers -- Ch. 4. Prostitution -- Ch. 5. Lesbians: garlic among the onions? -- Ch. 6. Silence/madness/death

Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 00:12
Last Modified: 17 May 2016 23:47
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