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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Daughters of development : the state and women in Indonesia Lindsay, Mary Thelma


The New Order regime has crafted state machinery which shapes the construction of gender relations, and feminist politics in Indonesia. The state has adopted elements of international Women in Development (WID) theories and practice to direct the participation of women in society. Throughout Indonesian history, particularly since the rise of the independence movement at the beginning of this century, women have contributed significantly to the political, social, cultural, and economic life of the Indonesian archipelago. This thesis begins with an examination of international Women in Development perspectives, theories and critiques that have contributed to the approach adopted by the state in Indonesia. The history of women's activism is examined, with particular attention to the revisionist accounts of women's contributions to Indonesian history manufactured by the state. Javanese notions of power and familial ideology have been imposed through state actions in an attempt to confine women to familial roles and household space. The progression of the formulation of ideology, policies, programs, and organizational structures which constitute the state machinery concerning women in development are traced. Some feminist political strategies adopted by women in these conditions are outlined. Sources included government of Indonesia publications and regulations; personal notes and correspondence; reports from interviews and meetings; Indonesian newspaper and magazine articles; notes from participant observation; statistics from the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics and field studies. The impact of the New Order state machinery on feminist politics, resistance, and activism is examined through the presentation of several case-studies of women in nongovernmental organizations; labour and regional nationalist movements, women working in the state bureaucracy, and rural women resisting or participating in state-sponsored programs. The thesis concludes that the New Order regime has severely confined the boundaries of feminist political space through revising or suppressing the contributions of women to Indonesian history; silencing, containing and co-opting feminist political activists; and instilling fear in women through violent action and threats of violence from the state military and surveillance apparatus.

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