May 20, 2019 Last Updated 1:07 AM, May 20, 2019

Reviews

Nineteenth century nationalism

Ahmat B. Adam, The vernacular press and the emergence of modern Indonesian consciousness (1855-1913), Cornell University, 1995. xiii, 206 pp.

Read more

Two Sumatran films

The National Library of Australia now has the most comprehensive collection of Indonesian films available outside of Indonesia. Two films in this collection come from Sumatra.

Read more

Finger in the pie

Audrey R. & George McT. Kahin, Subversion as foreign policy: The secret Eisenhower and Dulles debacle in Indonesia, New York: The New Press/ Petaling Jaya: Forum, 1995.

Read more

Recovering women's history

Saskia Eleonora Wieringa, The politicization of gender relations in Indonesia: The Indonesian women's movement and Gerwani until the New Order state, Amsterdam: Universiteitsbibliotheek (PhD thesis), 1995.

Read more

A democratic Asia?

>Garry Rodan (ed.), Political oppositions in industrialising Asia Routledge Price, 1996, 338 pp. RRP: AU$36.95.

Read more

Bali's other face

Geoffrey Robinson, The dark side of Paradise: political violence in Bali, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995, xxii, 341 pp.

Read more

Pramudya film

Bernie Ijdis (director), The Great Post Road, Pieter van Huystree Film & TV (producer), Netherlands, 1996, 16mm, 150 mins.

Read more

Oh for democracy

R. William Liddle, Leadership and culture in Indonesian politics, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996, 314pp.

Read more

Amungme dilemma

The Amung way: the subsistence strategies, the knowledge and the dilemma of the Tsinga Valley people in Irian Jaya, Indonesia, PhD thesis, University of Hawaii; Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1995, 509 pages.

Read more

Army observed

Robert Lowry, The Armed Forces of Indonesia, Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996, 283 pp.

Read more

The romance of K'tut Tantri

Timothy Lindsey, The Romance of K'tut Tantri and Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1997, 362pp, Rrp AU$65. Reviewed by RON WITTON

Read more

New book, old idea

Norman Lewis, An Empire of the East, London: Jonathan Cape, 1993.Reviewed by MICHAEL HERMES

Read more

The breasts of Bali

Michel Picard, Bali: Cultural tourism and touristic culture, Singapore: Archipelago Press, 1996, 231pp Rrp: $US 25.00. Reviewed by RON WITTON

Read more

The East Timor peace process

Heike Krieger, East Timor and the international community: Basic documents, Cambridge University Press, 1997, 494+xxviii pp, hardcover, Rrp AU$160.

Geoffrey C. Gunn, East Timor and the United Nations: The case for intervention, Lawrenceville, N.J: Red Sea Press, 1997, 241+vi pp, paperback, Rrp US$19.95. Avail: Red Sea Press, 11-D Princess Road, Lawrenceville, N.J., USA 08648-2319; fax: 1-609-844-0198.

Reviewed by RICHARD TANTER

Read more

Reefs alive!

Tomas Tomascik, Annmarie Janice Mah, Anugerah Nontji & Mohammad Kasim Moosa, The ecology of the Indonesian seas, Singapore: Periplus, part I (ISBN 962- 593-078-7, 642pp), part II (ISBN 962-593-163-5, 745pp).

Reviewed by IAN DUTTON

Read more

Murky military memoirs

Heru Cahyono, Pangkopkamtib Jenderal Soemitro dan Peristiwa 15 January '74, Pustaka Sinar Harapan, Jakarta 1998 (see Bookshop page for availability).

Reviewed by DAVID BOURCHIER

Read more

Silent resistance - review

Laine Berman, Speaking through the silence: Narratives, social conventions and power in Java, New York, Oxford University Press, 1998, Hbk ISBN 019-510-8884, AU$140.

Reviewed by DAMIEN KINGSBURY

There has been much acknowledgement of the 'levels' of language in Javanese society. Many observers - usually half informed - have noted the 'polite' and 'refined' aspects of the language. However, with Speaking through the silence, Laine Berman not only offers one of the most detailed accounts of Javanese culture, she identifies the quite pronounced power relations inherent in the Javanese language.

Berman's understanding of Javanese language and culture is based on her years of living and working in Yogyakarta, with ordinary families as well as within the confines of the palace. The focus of her study identifies the hierarchical power relations between different social levels in Javanese society, as well as between men and women.

Several characters in Berman's book are well brought to life, but she saves the most attention for a young woman who works in a local garment factory. Conditions are slave-like, but she has difficulty in even talking about them, or having them listened to. The 'silence' here is that which speaks most, though the gaps in communication are noticeable throughout. 'Politeness' is maintained through a use of non-language. One cannot offend or challenge if utterances are devoid of meaning.

When the protagonist does finally break loose of her restrictive 'cultural' bonds she is sacked. The lesson is that while what is defined as Javanese culture and its so-called refinement remains intact, there is little hope for the social or political emancipation of ordinary Javanese (and hence Indonesian) people.

From a scholarly perspective, Berman's work is thorough and detailed and it rewards close reading. Indonesianist academics and more general anthropologists and linguists should all find this book essential reading. It is a strong work and will undoubtedly find its well deserved place within the canon of texts on Indonesia. Only those with a vested interest in the Javanese status quo, or who have a misplaced sense of appreciation for what passes for Javanese 'politeness' and 'refinement', will come away from this book disappointed.

Dr Damien Kingsbury Damien.Kingsbury@arts.monash.edu.au is Executive Officer at the Monash Asia Institute, Melbourne, Australia.

Inside Indonesia 58: Apr-Jun 1999
Read more

Silent resistance - review

Laine Berman, Speaking through the silence: Narratives, social conventions and power in Java, New York, Oxford University Press, 1998, Hbk ISBN 019-510-8884, AU$140.

Read more

Latest Articles

Review: Bridges of Friendship

May 17, 2019 - ANITA DEWI

An excellent reminder of the strength and importance of relationships between people of different cultures

Aging remarkably

May 16, 2019 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

Tati (Tatik) Soepijarniwati, 86 years, seems too small, too slight and too old to agitate / Author

A lifelong activist and retired midwife is teaching her peers to stay engaged… and not burden their children

Review: Flowers from Universe

May 06, 2019 - LAURIE MARGOT ROSS

Consort seated at spinning wheel, c.1910.  Reproduced in CM Pleyte, De Inlandsche nijverheid in West-Java als social-ethnologisch verschijnsel. Vol. 2, 1911. Batavia: Javasche Boekhandel en Drukkerij.

Textiles from Java

Passing it on

May 02, 2019 - LISA FAVAZZO

Image/ Lisa Favazzo

On a recent study trip, journalism student Lisa Favazzo met two people giving back to their communities in extraordinary ways

A temple to populist nationalism

Apr 29, 2019 - IAN CHALMERS

Muslim devotees attend Sukarno's graveside / Ian Chalmers

Sukarno’s gravesite is very popular but there is much irony in the way his memory is celebrated

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar