This article examines how Umar Kayam’s fiction reveals the logic underlying the New Order political legacy through the reproduction of the myth of ethnic purity and anti-communist discourse. It argues that Kayam’s fiction, especially “Musim Gugur Kembali di Connecticut” (“Fall in Connecticut,” 1967), “Sri Sumarah” (1970), “Bawuk” (1973), Para Priyayi (The Nobles, 1992) and his last novel, Jalan Menikung (The Winding Road, 1999), reflect how that essentialist discourse believing in the primacy of certain ethnic and class categories has been deployed effectively in the Indonesian political arena to create false consciousness among the masses. Kayam challenged this by offering a fictional figuration of fluid identity—identity whose quality is not determined by boundaries of race and class categories of the communist, Chinese and Jewish characters. The texts also signify the narrowing of Homi K. Bhabha’s (2002) third space, leaving fewer courses of action for priyayi (Javanese nobles), resulting prominently in corruption. The third space in the Javanese priyayi context does not become a site of empowerment but of corruption and manipulation. It emerges in Kayam’s essentialist priyayi characters who believe in the primacy of Javanese priyayi class not as a progressive reconstruction of the site of postcolonial politics, but as a failure to find a moral center for the emergent nation.


New Order, Gestapu, Lekra, Marxism, marriage, abangan, race, prejudice

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)