This project seeks to analyse the development of diasporic left-wing communities of Indonesian exiles during the latter phase of the Cold War, specifically from the rise of the New Order of Major-General Suharto in 1965 until his fall in 1998. It will examine the lives and writings of selected members of exilic communities of Indonesian-speakers scattered across Europe and Asia, with the aim of contributing to a re-evaluation of post-Independence history of Indonesian literature, culture, and politics, and to the field of diasporic and exilic studies in general. It seeks to evaluate the legacy of the exiled Leftists upon contemporary politics and society in post-Suharto Indonesia, and how their ideas impact upon contemporary debates, political institutions, and popular ideology there.
The decimation of Communists and leftist nationalists was central to the establishment of the New Order, which exercised firm control over all aspects of political life and cultural production. Non-conforming interpretations of national history - including literary and cultural products - were suppressed. Hegemonic authority over history and interpretation was reinforced by incarcerating Leftist authors, and banning their works. Those abroad faced arrest and detention should they return. Globally several thousand Indonesian citizens remained in exile for fear of death or imprisonment, including at least several dozen writers, journalists, and artists who spent the most fecund period of their creative lives in exile. Through an exploration of historical life paths and using the methodology of collective biographic and cultural history, this study hopes to analyse the movement of Indonesia's literary Leftists in exile, the production and the transmission of their writings. Ultimately, this project aims to contribute to the integration of their histories of exile into the broader re-examination and re-evaluation of Indonesia's national past underway since Suharto's fall.