Society and Identity
Indonesian biographies focus both on individual and collective identities. They link pictures of Individuals with pictures of nation. Biographies of prominent political figures, eminent artists, respected religious leaders and successful entrepreneurs deal with the whole nation.
First, I would like to examine the place of biography in the national life. In considering Indonesian biographies, we must take account of the list of national heroes created by Sukarno during the Guided Democracy (1959-1965). This list aroused sets of official or popular biographies, sometimes intended for young readers. We can mention, for example, the recent collection of political biographies published by the newspaper Kompas. These works are often hagiographic. They take part in the national building, promoting its diversity of people, cultures and religions.
Then, I would like to examine some Indonesian biographies of an eminent founding father: Sukarno, the first President of the Republic. He proclaimed the Independence and conceived the political system, the Pancasila, that made possible to build the Indonesian nation, trying to reconcile the claims of Muslim and secular nationalists. In examining changes in picturing his personality, I would like to consider the relationship between the perceptions of the Individual and the progressive building of the Indonesian nation itself.