The Romance of K'tut Tantri and Indonesia

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Equinox Publishing, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 392 pages

This historiographic study of K'tut Tantri - alias Vannen Walker, the journalist from the Isle of Man; Muriel Pearson, the unhappy wife; and Surabaya Sue, the notorious revolutionary - compares her romantic and colorful autobiography, Revolt in Paradise, with other versions of her past, including those of her fellow Bali colonists and her revolutionary comrades, as well as her foes, the Dutch, and various intelligence organizations. These alternatives accounts of her past question the image of K'tut Tantri as hero, portraying her instead as dishonest, unstable, egotistical, and immoral. Such criticisms have overshadowed proper recognition of her role in the development of modern Indonesia, both as a bohemian hotelier in between-wars Bali and later as propaganda broadcaster and adviser to Indonesian revolutionary leaders including Soekarno, Sutomo, and Syarifuddin.

Focusing on the nature of biography and autobiography, this book analyses K'tut Tantri's self-defeating battle to use history - in text and film script - to define her identity and reappropriate her past. An examination of the use of ideas of "truth" and "fiction" in understanding the past leads to broader consideration of the nature of history and its uses. Finally, an attempt is made to reconcile the deconstruction of K'tut Tantri's autobiography with both an acceptance of the validity of "alternative" historical genres and an acceptance of the problems inherent in writing a history of a living person.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Timothy Lindsey is Professor of Law, Director of the Asian Law Centre, Director of the Centre for Islamic Law and Society and Federation Fellow in the Law School at the University of Melbourne.

 

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