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Open Access Cosmopolitanism, Nation, and the Urban–Rural Split in the Novels of Ayu Utami

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Cosmopolitanism, Nation, and the Urban–Rural Split in the Novels of Ayu Utami

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image of Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

Ayu Utami’s novels Saman (1998) and Larung (2001) have attracted considerable attention, yet little of this attention has focused on their representation of cosmopolitanism. This article argues that the cosmopolitanism constructed in Utami’s works exists in a world of unequal power relations and thus can only be more fully realized through democratic struggles, including struggles for more equal gender relations, in Indonesia and throughout the world. Yet the notion of a struggle for greater democracy within Indonesia is problematic in Saman and Larung precisely because of a spatio-temporal dialectic which the books represent—that between urban activists and marginalized rural populations, between secular modernity and a world seen as ‘enchanted’. This divide is not simply the distance between cities and villages, but also one of relational space in which ideas and associations urban dwellers hold of villagers, as well as disparate ways of thinking, create gaps of understanding.

Affiliations: 1: University of Victoria mbodden@uvic.ca

10.1163/22134379-17204004
/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17204004
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Ayu Utami’s novels Saman (1998) and Larung (2001) have attracted considerable attention, yet little of this attention has focused on their representation of cosmopolitanism. This article argues that the cosmopolitanism constructed in Utami’s works exists in a world of unequal power relations and thus can only be more fully realized through democratic struggles, including struggles for more equal gender relations, in Indonesia and throughout the world. Yet the notion of a struggle for greater democracy within Indonesia is problematic in Saman and Larung precisely because of a spatio-temporal dialectic which the books represent—that between urban activists and marginalized rural populations, between secular modernity and a world seen as ‘enchanted’. This divide is not simply the distance between cities and villages, but also one of relational space in which ideas and associations urban dwellers hold of villagers, as well as disparate ways of thinking, create gaps of understanding.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17204004
2016-01-01
2018-06-25

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