The apparent ease with which Kartini has been troped in the past century attests to the richness of her life and letters, which lend themselves to multiple, differing interpretations, contestations, and appropriations. The edited volume we will produce in this project consists of chapters by an international team of scholars studying the discursive underpinnings of the varying appropriations of Kartini as a colonial, postcolonial, national and transnational memory by exploring the ways in which the ideologies and practices of power, both formal and informal, shape how she is remembered by Indonesia and the world. The memory of Kartini has been strategically deployed to cement as well as undermine existing power structures. Furthermore, most appropriations of Kartini tap into underlying political, social, and cultural investments and agendas which can be viewed as responses to the needs or anxieties of those constructing her. Thus the study of these varying appropriations would provide us an insight into the complexities of remembrance and representation, as well as the intersectional dynamics of gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, and nationality that enter the discursive constructions of Kartini as an icon.
The volume will bring together authors working on Kartini throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It breaks new ground by being the first study of its kind to systematically analyze both Asian and Western legacies of an Asian woman’s writings. It hypothesizes that Kartini’s figure and letters have been used by so many different institutions and actors in differing periods because through her they could articulate their own position on the role of the native, Indonesian, and Asian woman in society. By assembling experts from across the disciplines that include anthropology, literature, history, media, gender, memory and postcolonial studies, this volume seeks to build or expand on the current debates and scholarship on Kartini and memory studies by examining the systems of power that underline the appropriations of Kartini as an ideology and discourse.
In 2014, this project was awarded with a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the period 2015-2018.
Click here to go back to the full list of research projects ongoing at the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies and in collaboration with other departments and institutions.