Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Travelling Texts, Circulating Histories and Historical Ruptures in Indonesia: Lakshmi Pamuntjak’s Amba: The Question of Red

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Silveroak II, Ground Floor

The long history of The Mahabharata and its cultural assimilations is spread across South East Asia and is a living reminder of a syncretic Asian culture. As a traveling text, it circulated since ancient times through maritime links across monsoon Asia and its epical narrative spoke across the gap of ethnicity, race, religion, and culture. The epic continues to be re-crafted and re-fashioned to exhume questions of polity, internecine violence, individual choice and community responsibility in the context of modern historical narratives in South Asia.


This paper interrogates the relationship of The Mahabharata with Indonesian politics, culture and history through the lens of Lakshmi Pamuntjak debut novel, Amba: The Question of Red. The novel unravels through the rewriting of the story of the tragic epic heroine Amba—in a twentieth-century context—the Communist pogroms initiated by Suharto in 1965-66. Despite the numerous accounts of this being circulated in the Western world, in Indonesia, this fratricidal war remains largely invisible.


In this revisionist text Amba’s story is, as in the Indic epic, a story of families and friends torn asunder. For Pamuntjak it is only this master epic which provides her the mythic anchorage and creative license she needs. Her novel deftly uses the Indic influence and grafts it upon an ancient Javanese cultural heritage and, consequently, also provides a shared history that flows across South Asian cultures and provides a narrative uninterrupted by the legacy of colonialism: a civilizational dialogue that continues across a borderless region.

Anjana Sharma

University of Delhi, India

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Anjana Sharma


Assets

1 - Travelling Texts, Circulating Histories and Historical Ruptures in Indonesia: Lakshmi Pamuntjak’s Amba: The Question of Red



Attendees who have favorited this

Please enter your access key

The asset you are trying to access is locked. Please enter your access key to unlock.

Send Email for Travelling Texts, Circulating Histories and Historical Ruptures in Indonesia: Lakshmi Pamuntjak’s Amba: The Question of Red