Books on Southeast Asian nationalist movements make very little – if any – mention of women in their ranks. Biographical studies of politically active women in Southeast Asia are also rare. Women in Southeast Asian Nationalist Movements makes a strong case for the significance of women’s involvement in nationalist movements and for the diverse impacts of those movements on the lives of individual women activists.
Some of the 12 women whose political activities are discussed in this volume are well known, while others are not. Some of them participated in armed struggles, while others pursued peaceful ways of achieving national independence. The authors show women negotiating their own subjectivity and agency at the confluence of colonialism, patriarchal traditions, and modern ideals of national and personal emancipation. They also illustrate the constraints imposed on them by wider social and political structures, and show what it was like to live as a political activist in different times and places.
Fully documented and drawing on wider scholarship, this book will be of interest to students of Southeast Asian history and politics as well as readers with a particular interest in women, nationalism and political activism.
“The authors raise valuable questions about the lack of integration of women’s contributions into national histories. The obstacles are not just class or educational status, as the variety of women presented here makes clear.” – Sophie Quinn-Judge
“…vivid and colourful stories of women as independent journalists and writers; as professional military and intelligence officers; as fervent and stubborn guerrilla fighters in jungles; and as capable educators, propagandists, and politicians…this anthology challenges conventional, male-dominated national histories, and convincingly shows that the histories of anti-colonial and independence movements in Southeast Asia cannot be written without recognising the considerable contributions made by women.” – Akiko Ishii, National University of Singapore