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Ethics and Institutions in Biographical Writing on Indonesian Subjects

Hill, D.T. (2009) Ethics and Institutions in Biographical Writing on Indonesian Subjects. In: Harrison, B., (ed.) Life Story Research. Sage, London, England, pp. 146-161.

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It has been argued that the social sciences in general are currently undergoing an ‘auto/biographical turn’. Internationally, the field remains largely Eurocentric and discussion of the particular problems presented by life writing in contexts such as Indonesia—in Asia more broadly—remains relatively rare. Nonetheless, within Indonesian studies, academic interest is increasing in the critical production, use, and interpretation of such materials, particularly in the context of the imagination and representation of an emerging ‘modern’ Indonesian identity. This paper examines ethical issues relating to such writing of Indonesian lives. It emerges from a concern over the ‘over-ethicizing’ and ‘over-institutionalising’ of non-medical life writing and examines the effects of prevailing regulations governing this activity in Australian universities. It then explores additional institutional constraints—sometimes directly contradicting Australia's national code of ethics—that might apply in the Indonesian context. It concludes with a discussion of the consequent challenges of attempting to write a biography of Indonesian author and journalist, Mochtar Lubis.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Publisher: Sage
Copyright: Sage
Publisher's Website:
Notes: Original source: Life Writing, 4(2) 2007, pp.215-229
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