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May 24, 2024

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May 16, 2024

7 Poetry Collections by Chinese Indonesian Writers

Book Chronicles / Recos

Growing up as a Chinese Indonesian, I never thought a person who looked like me would have a place in literature. My dream of being a writer seemed impossible. To this day, a Google search for “Chinese Indonesian poets” yields no results. The lack of Chinese Indonesian voices, especially in poetry, mirrors a long history of violence, stemming from colonialism and occupation to cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing—resulting in the suppression of our cultural heritage.

During the New Order of Suharto’s reign, a series of anti-Chinese legislation effectively banned the use of Hanzi, erasing Chinese literature and culture. Chinese philosophies, folk religion, beliefs, and traditions were prohibited in Indonesia. Over time, many Chinese Indonesian families fled to other parts of the world. Those who stayed in Indonesia relinquished their Chinese-sounding names—pressured by the government—and instead integrated their surnames into their new Indonesian names, my family included.

Read the full article here.

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