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In Session: Comparative Print Capitalism in Times of Transformation in Japan, Indonesia, China, and Philippine
2: Nation at Home: Women, Family, and Bangsa Tionghoa in the Writings of Kwee Thiam Tjing
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
Northwestern University, United States
This paper examines the writings of Kwee Thiam Thing, a journalist of Chinese descent, who wrote under the pseudonym ‘Tjamboek Berdoeri’ (Thorny Whip) in late colonial Indonesia during the 1920s and 1930s. The study looks into Kwee’s corpus of texts and examines the depictions of women and the dialogical structure of his writings as an articulation of nation, specifically Chinese nation (bangsa Tionghoa). I argue that Kwee used commentaries of women, family, and marriage to evaluate the social condition of Chinese community in colonial Java and to project his desire for modern progress. His articulations of Chinese nation were an expression to make sense of the impact of Dutch colonial presence in the everyday lives of Chinese community, grounded in a masculine view of gender role. This article re-highlights the role of newspapers in the early twentieth century Java as a gendered site of interactions where the imagination of one's nation was articulated through quotidian narratives.