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Abstract

In this paper, I explore polygamy in Nia Dinata’s Indonesian film, Love for Share, and how it can be used as a key signifier to analyze the construction of gendered subjects, identities and relations in the phallocentric discourses of family and nation. In Indonesia, the family structure is inherently patriarchal and hierarchical in nature, one which exhorts wives to stay at home while husbands are seen as breadwinners and whose roles are non-domestic. However, women are doubly marginalized in Indonesia as their subordinate status in the domestic space is reified at the national level through the state ideology of the nation as a “united and inclusive family.” Moreover, using the doctrine of Ibuism, or Motherhood, the government encourages women to stay at home and conform to the ideal roles of wife and mother, thereby restricting their rights as citizens. Using Benedict Anderson‘s theory of the nation as an “imagined political community,” I will consider how Love for Share ideologically constructs and imaginatively situates its characters as gendered subjects in the spaces of family and nation through the representations of polygamy, and how the film imagines and expresses female desire, agency and freedom. In this manner, the film both reflects and contributes to the ongoing discursive negotiations and transformations in gender identities and relations occurring within the sociopolitical landscape of contemporary Indonesia.

Note on the Author

Grace V. S. Chin received her B. A. and M. A. from the University of Malaya and her PhD degree in English literature from the University of Hong Kong. She currently teaches English literature and drama studies in Brunei Darussalam the University of Brunei Darussalam. She has published articles on censorship and freedom and their effects on gendered identities, and on the literary developments in English in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Her recent publications include an anthology of Bruneian plays. Currently, she is exploring representations of the female body and sexuality in diasporic Chinese literatures.

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