Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) inaugurated a new professor of literature and gender on Thursday (17/2). Prof. Wening Udasmoro is a former Dean of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences whose interests revolve around the study of French literature, gender, politics of identity, and critical discourse analysis.
In her inaugural address entitled Transformative Masculinity: Violence and Subjects in the Dynamics of Literature and Culture, Udasmoro expressed her concern over the recent rise in cases of violence in Indonesia. According to her, everyone is the heir to a dynasty of violence whose narratives are transmitted through various oral, written, or visual stories.
“We are the inheritors of epic and heroic stories from around the world that are present in our memory from childhood. Cultural, political, media narratives, as well as broad narratives in our daily lives, reflect violent incidents that are often used as a problem-solving mechanism by the habitus of our society,” she explained.
In fact, these narratives, she said, were consumed daily via virtual messages and circulated indefinitely on social media. The transmitting subjects are sometimes those who are socially believed and expected to contribute, such as civil servants, politicians, public figures, or religious leaders.
“We are in a frame of space for violence that grows within the framework of our thinking and the praxis of our lives, and these violent narratives in literature are produced and reproduced in a variety of forms,” she uttered.
Often, she continued, people were not aware of these toxic narratives. This unconsciousness occurs due to a performative mechanism–a tendency to repeat violent scripts without questioning why people should consume them.
“We often serve as the subject of a culture of violence. The ways we preserve it are also facilitated by the products of capitalism, such as mobiles that exist because we created them,” said the newly-promoted professor.
Literary and cultural narratives will function according to their delivery. Prof. Udasmoro argues that promoting a non-violent subject through literature, media, school, family, and everyday conversation can be a more durable mechanism than law enforcement when violence occurs across a broad spectrum.
“It won’t be easy, especially when our structure of thinking is firmly convinced of a certain pattern. However, it’s not impossible considering we all have the potential to be ‘subjects in process’ and transform ourselves,” said Udasmoro.
Author: Agung Nugroho