Jakarta and the subject of ‘the city’ have been dominant sources of inspiration and exploration in modern Indonesian literature. The city, and Jakarta in particular, has not only represented a geographical and political centre of Indonesian political life, it has also served as an important site for interpretation, analysis and narrative. Jakarta has proved to be a rich starting point for writers, critics and intellectuals who approach the city in their own way and with their own political and ideological perspectives. The city of Jakarta is central to the imagining of the modern nation of Indonesia. It is also central to the writing practices of modern Indonesian literature.
My research explores contemporary developments in Asian cities in general and Indonesian cities in particular. I have interests in the cross-over between public and private space, surveillance and how cities are used and created. I regard literary and textual products to be vital sources of information and insight: and thus, I research how urban experiences are represented and re-produced. My thesis was on the short stories, essays and novels of Seno Gumira Ajidarma whose writings have contributed significantly to both an understanding and analysis of contemporary urban experience in Jakarta. I argued that Seno’s writings presented both a critique of concepts of flanerie, while also broadened an analysis of contemporary urban developments.
While at IIAS, I will work on an analysis of the poetry and novels of Afrizal Malna. His work, I argue, provides a discursive effort at reproducing a multi-sensory experience of everyday urban life in Indonesia. My translations of his poems will be published by Lontar in 2012. Separately, I will also use my time here to revise various in-progress articles for publication.