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Reading Contemporary Indonesian Muslim Women Writers

Reading Contemporary Indonesian Muslim Women Writers: Representation, Identity and Religion of Muslim Women in Indonesian Fiction

Diah Ariani Arimbi
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Reading Contemporary Indonesian Muslim Women Writers
    Book Description:

    Most literary analysis of the canon of Indonesian literature overlooks its religious aspect. This book is the first to discuss the construction of gender and Islamic identities in literary writing by four prominent Indonesian Muslim women writers: Titis Basino P I, Ratna Indraswari Ibrahim, Abidah El Kalieqy and Helvy Tiana Rosa. The narratives of the four writers are rich sources for revealing the construction of Indonesian Muslim women's identities. Within their feminist reading the writers understand that gender roles are negotiable rather than inherent. In representing women in a variety of discourses they draw multi-faceted women struggling against repression and domination, and resisting their status as powerless. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0816-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-6)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 7-8)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 9-10)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 11-26)

    Women, gender and Islam will always be a contested sight because women’slocusin relation to Islam is problematic when their status is manifested through the eyes of practiced Islam. Various interpretations of Islam have managed to define, locate and perhaps entrap women in certain fixed categories. Amina Wadud and her attempts to break the hegemony of patriarchalfiqhis an example of the problematic female position in Islam. Her endeavour to be animam, by leading a Friday prayer in New York, triggered strong controversy.¹ The possibility of a woman leading prayer for a male and female congregation resulted...

  5. 1 Contemporary Issues of Women and Islam in Muslim Societies
    (pp. 27-54)

    When the PDIP (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) – a political party led by Megawati Soekarnoputri – won the general election in 1999, it produced a massive reaction in the political, social, and religious spheres. Most importantly, the PDIP’s triumph in the general election also called attention to the issue of gender. Could Megawati Soekarnoputri become the first woman president in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country? Headlines of major newspapers in Indonesia such asThe Jakarta Post, Kompas, Republika, Jawa Posand others were flooded with the issue of whether a woman could or...

  6. 2 Gender Issues and Islam in Contemporary Indonesia
    (pp. 55-74)

    As various Islamic discourses on gender emerge within the global setting, so are such discourses emerging within an Indonesian context. Since the focus of this book is on the narratives of selected contemporary Indonesian Muslim women writers and how they engage with the notion of women’s representation, identity, status and role, it is important to look at ideas about gender, and the influence such ideas might have on the writer’s narratives. Literary reproduction is not isolated from the cultural, political and socio-religious contexts from which it comes. It can capture the dynamics of the society within which it is constantly...

  7. 3 Women Writers in the Indonesian Literary Tradition
    (pp. 75-84)

    Although women writers have always existed in the Indonesian literary tradition just as long as their male counterparts, the following discussion will start from the 1970s when women writers began to play a stronger role in Indonesian fiction. In the previous era, in the light of A. Teeuw’s perspectives, although women have long contributed their writings to the then Dutch East Indies literature, their names only foreshadowed their male counterparts. Not until the 1970s were women’s writings taken into account in Indonesian literature.¹

    As has been noted it is difficult to place authors within a rigid timeframe. However, the feature...

  8. 4 Authors, Their Worlds and the Female Traditions
    (pp. 85-106)

    The variety of themes that contemporary Indonesian female authors deal with is extended by those who are not classified as members of eithersastra wangior ‘chick lit’. Abidah El Khalieqy and Helvy Tiana Rosa, and their older counterparts Titis Basino and Ratna Indraswari Ibrahim are among this group of women writers. If mostsastra wangi’s characters are urban-centred, the characters of these four authors vary from traditional older women to young modern figures. The four can be classified as Muslim writers whose narratives vividly account for religious identification and whose works are known to be part of Islamic writings....

  9. 5 Representation, Identity and Religion: Images of Muslim Women, Their Lives and Struggles in Fiction (Part I)
    (pp. 107-142)

    Women writers now occupy a prominent position in the modern Indonesian literary canon. With the growing popularity of both serious and popular literary works, a younger generation of authors such as Ayu Utami, Dewi Lestari, Fira Basuki and Jenar Mahesa Ayu now enjoy a much larger readership. Women authors write narratives engaged with issues of women’s identity whether it be social, cultural or religious (as exemplified by Titis, Ratna, Abidah and Helvy, discussed in the preceding chapter), yet the issue of religious convictions seldom surfaces within the domain of literary criticism. Most literary criticism analysis of the canon of Indonesian...

  10. 6 Representation, Identity and Religion: Images of Muslim Women, Their Lives and Struggles in Fiction (Part II)
    (pp. 143-180)

    Raising general awareness about issues concerning women and Islam can be channelled through numerous ways, including book publication. Abidah El Kahieqy is famous for her engagement in disseminating awareness of the rights of women within the bounds of Islamic values. Her short stories and novel are commonly perceived as promoters of Muslim women’s authenticity, intellectual ownership, identity and struggle within their community, in order to advocate equality for women in a male-dominated world. Her stories are largely against the background ofpesantren, which may be regarded as a subculture of Islam, particularly within Javanese settings. Abidah is a Muslim activist...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-186)

    The various strands of contemporary feminism call for more nuanced readings of the political and ideological construction of women’s roles within which feminist theory, practice and reading are situated. Muslim women are undeniably responsive to such calls and suggest various ways of engaging with their own social, cultural and political conditions. Through various discourses of their own they demonstrate their subject position and call for the ‘woman’s question’ to be centred at the public level. In so doing they show that they are no longer ‘objects’ in identity construction.

    The works of Titis Basino, Ratna Indraswati Ibrahim, Abidah El Khalieqy...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 187-206)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-218)
  14. Index
    (pp. 219-234)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-236)