Recent scholarly work on nationalism has revealed the importance of the nation imagined as a community. The subjects of these works, however, have been largely political speeches, polemical essays, and radical journalism. Missing has been the one literary genre where the individual's commitment to the imagining of the nation is most explicitly addressed: autobiography. In looking critically at eight autobiographical works, all concerned in one way or another with the question of what it means to be an Indonesian in the twentieth century, C. W. Watson demonstrates the value of reading autobiographies as accounts of nation-building.Anthropology at the University of Kent at Canterbury and has written extensively on the literature, culture, and politics of Indonesia.
"A brilliant reinterpretation of Indonesian history, providing a wonderful access for historians and anthropologists to Indonesian culture. Indeed, it gives them the literary tools which they sorely lack and which, I fear, they don't always realize they lack. This is a major milestone in the study of Southeast Asian autobiography." --Amin Sweeney, University of California, Berkeley