‘Reading Joost Cotè’s meticulously edited and finely translated anthology of Kartini’s complete writings, one is struck anew by the ironies in the life of this young woman whose symbolic status as pioneering nationalist and feminist is still largely unquestioned in Indonesia.’ Pam Allen, www.insideindonesia.org
In Indonesia, the legacy of Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879–1904) is celebrated on Kartini Day, 21 April, every year. Around the world Kartini is recognised as a major figure in the history of the advancement of women: a tireless and effective advocate of women’s education and emancipation. However, this is the first complete and unexpurgated collection of Kartini’s published articles, memoranda and correspondence ever published in any language.
This collection reveals Kartin’s importance as a pioneer of the Indonesian nationalist movement. Claiming in her letters and petitions her people’s right to national autonomy well before her male compatriots did so publicly, Kartini used her writing in an attempt to educate the Netherlands and Dutch colonialists about Java and the aspirations of its people. Had she lived, she would have been one of Indonesia’s leading pre-independence writers as well as an educationist. In 1964 she was elevated to the status of national hero by Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno. She has become one of the most well known Asian figures in the international women’s movement.
The product of several decades’ study and based on archival sources, Kartini is extensively annotated and provided with an authoritative historical introduction by one of the world’s leading Kartini authorities. This work will be the essential resource for scholars and students of Kartini and her place in Indonesian history, around the world, for many years to come.
This publication and translation project is supported by the Commonwealth through the Australia-Indonesia Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Dr Joost Coté is Senior Research Fellow in the Department of History at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He has researched and published widely on early 20th century colonial modernity in the Netherlands East Indies and has written about Kartini over...