PhD Research Forum on Language, Literature and Culture

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Date(s) - 30/05/2012
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Japanese Studies Centre Auditorium, Building 54 (next to the bus loop), Monash University, Clayton Campus


Monash Asia Seminars – CSEAS Seminar Series

Presenters: Anita Dewi, Paulus Sarwoto, Amelberga

Anita Dewi – ‘Perception of English: A Study of Staff and Students at Universities  in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’

There has been a significant increase in the number of English speakers globally with nonnative speakers signify the majority of speakers who rely on diverse varieties of the language. In its history, English has been disseminated through a number of processes ranging from colonialism to globalisation.

This has ultimately resulted in the formation of various relationships between English and the target communities. English has also spread to countries where Muslims constitute the majority of the population. As religious teachings are embedded in local or national cultures and thus result in non-homogeneous Islamic communities across the globe, it is an oversimplification to conclude that English consistently stands in opposition to Islam in every Islamic society. This reflects the importance of studies directed towards perceptions of English in Indonesia, the fourth most populated country and the largest Muslim community in the world.

This research examines perceptions of English, focusing on staff and students at universities in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Five research questions were used as the basis for conducting this study, which lead to the themes of English and its acceptance in Indonesia, English at tertiary level, the roles of English, English in relation to identity, and perception of World Englishes. Research findings will be discussed at the forum.

Paulus Sarwoto – ‘The Javanese in Transition: A Postcolonial Study of the Priyayi in the Works of Indonesian Author, Umar Kayam’

The postcolonial study in Indonesian literature is still very limited. Indonesia’s distinctive history has contributed to the scarcity of the writers examining the colonial legacy through literary representation. In fact critical reflection on colonial legacy has never been a major theme in Indonesian literature, theory and criticism. Among the few vernacular writers whose stories deal with the legacy of colonialism but is less discussed in a postcolonial perspective is Umar Kayam.

The stories in question are Kayam’s New York stories and priyayi stories that are the primary texts of this research. I will be taking a particularly postcolonial approach to this analysis. I hope to show through my analysis the development of priyayi class before and after colonialism through the perspective of these stories. The discussion centres on the constellation of priyayi figuration in the four major phases of Indonesian history: the early 20th century, 1945, 1965 (Gestapu), and 1966-1998 (the New Order). Through each historical point, Kayam portrays the priyayi strategy in negotiating social change. The figuration of priyayi in facing the social change is split between those who adhere to the concept of compassionate priyayi and those who manipulate their values for personal glory.

Throughout the colonial and after independence periods, the compassionate priyayi finds the dead end of their struggle and  hence marginalized whereas the latter gain material prosperity and strong political position. To this end the stories offer a typically universal humanist thesis, i.e. that priyayi-hood is a universal trait beyond the confinement of race and nationality.

Amelberga Astuti – ‘Women Writing the City in Contemporary Asian-Australian and Indonesian Narratives’

The gendered nature of social spaces, particularly the site of the city, is particularly significant to the global and transnational movements of Southeast-Asian women writers who travel and/or migrate to Australia in the twentieth-century. Based on this idea, this research examines Southeast-Asian and Indonesian women writers’ views of the transnational engagements and the multi-ethnic nature of contemporary city. Their narratives show that Southeast-Asian women renegotiate their cultural identities in incorporating and unbounding their female subjectivity in the lights of agency and movements of global society.