Modernity, sexuality, and gender in Pramoedya Ananta Toer's This Earth of Mankind (1980)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay looks at the construction of the modern in the novel This Earth of Mankind (1980) by the Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer (1925-2006). When the novel's protagonist, Minke, a Native Indonesian living on Java around 1900, is introduced to the idea of the modern by Dutch teachers and friends, he gradually discovers the inconsistencies underlying Western conceptualizations of the modern, in particular regarding sexuality and gender. The novel argues for a reconsideration of the modern from a non-Western perspective that, instead of defending one homogenous vision of modernity with roots in the West, allows for multiple trajectories for modernity. Such alternative ways of conceptualizing the modern seek to capitalize on the increased mobility that accompanied Western colonialism, using this mobility as a chance to come to a multilateral understanding of what it means to be modern that includes a reorientation toward Native culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-98
Number of pages22
JournalSymposium - Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Modernity, sexuality, and gender in Pramoedya Ananta Toer's This Earth of Mankind (1980)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this