British in the Battle of Surabaya: A Discourse Analysis of Indonesian History Textbooks

Mrs Indah Wahyu Puji Utami1

1National Institute of Education, , Singapore, 2Universitas Negeri Malang, Malang, Indonesia

Representations of war in educational contexts have drawn the attention of scholars. A lot of research has been done on the representation of the World War II (WW II) in history textbooks in Europe and East Asia, including multiple perspectives on controversies of the war, the portrayal of heroes and victims, and the use of textbooks to create a national collective memory. However, fewer studies have been done on the representation of wars after WW II in history textbooks, including the independence war that occurred in Indonesia from 1945-1949. The Battle of Surabaya which started in October 1945 is an important episode of war in which the British fought against Indonesians just few months after Sukarno proclaimed independence. The key questions asked in this paper are how are the British in the Battle of Surabaya represented in Indonesian history textbooks? Why are they represented this way? Using a postcolonial framework and Fairclough’s model of discourse analysis of nine Indonesian history textbooks from 1950’s to 2017, I will argue that the representation of British in the battle of Surabaya in Indonesian history textbooks is not monolithic, nor static. This is due to the development of Indonesian historiography and the politics of education that has changed over time.


Indah Wahyu Puji Utami is a Ph.D. student at National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her research topic is the discourse of 1945-1949 war on Indonesian and Dutch history textbooks. She also works at History Department, Faculty of Social Sciences, Universitas Negeri Malang, Indonesia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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