SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Democracy in Indonesia: Cultural Perspectives


Date: 14 March 2019Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 14 March 2019Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: SOAS Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT)

Type of Event: Discussion

More than 20 years since the fall of the Suharto regime, writers and journalists occupy a key role in shaping the cultural life of the world’s third largest democracy, reflecting on recent history and also contributing to discussion about the future direction of this achipelagic nation. 

Prominent Indonesian writers Djenar Maesa Ayu, Leila S. Chudori and Norman Erikson Pasaribu will talk about their perspective on the Indonesian cultural scene in this key election year.

Chaired by Dr Ben Murtagh, Senior Lecturer in Indonesian and Malay, SOAS.

Djenar Maesa Ayu
Djenar Maesa Ayu

Djenar Maesa Ayu has written 7 short story collections and a novel Nayla, published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama. Her short story, Suckling Father won the Women's Journal Best Story Award in 2003. Another story, Nayla's Time won the coveted Kompas Best Story Award in the same year. Aside from writing, Djenar is also an award-winning screenwriter and film director. Her debut film They Say I'm A Monke (2008) won four Citra Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best New Director for Djenar. Her third film, Nay (2015) won Best Asian Film at Jogja NETPAC Asian Film Festival. Her latest film, If This Is My Story (2018), a collaboration with her husband, Kan Lumé, won Best Performance at the same festival. Djenar has also acted in films. For her role in Kartini' (2017), she received all-round nominations for Best Supporting Actress, eventually winning the Best Supporting Actress Award at the prestigious Bandung Film Festival.

Leila Chudori
Leila Chudori

Leila S. Chudori is an author, journalist and regular contributor for Tempo Magazine, and screenwriter for film and television. Her first novel, Pulang (Home, KPG, 2012) follows the lives of the 1965 Indonesian political exiles in Europe, and has received the Khatulistiwa Award in 2013 for Best Prose that has been translated into five languages, including English, German, and Dutch. Her literary career began at an early age, and since then, has published two short story collections, 9 Dari Nadira and Malam Terakhir, and The Longest Kiss, which was published in English and German. Her latest work, Laut Bercerita, a novel on the kidnapping of 1998 activists, is a national best seller and will soon appear in English under the title The Sea Speaks His Name was launched in 2017 with a short movie with the same title. Her writings explore the untold parts of Indonesian history and politics, the cultural and social position of women, forbidden literature, and the shifting heritage of a war-torn archipelago that we call Indonesia.

Norman Erikson Pasaribu
Norman Erikson Pasaribu

Norman Erikson Pasaribu is a writer of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Dubbed by the English PEN as “part of long tradition of queer Catholic writing,” his first book of poems Sergius Seeks Bacchus won a PEN Translates Award in 2018. Translated into English by Tiffany Tsao, the book will be published in the UK by Tilted Axis in 2019. In 2017, he won the Young Author Award from the Southeast Asia Literary Council. In the same year he was chosen as a writer’s in residence in Vietnam by Indonesian National Book Committee and Ministry of Education and Culture. He published a collection of short stories in 2014 and is currently working on his first novel. He is one of most the most celebrated young writers in Indonesia today. 

This event is held in partnership with the British Council as part of the Indonesia Market Focus at The London Book Fair 2019.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online registration

All guests are invited to a reception following the talk.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893