Sharon Y.X.R. Ndoen


Currently pursuing my PhD in Cultural Studies in Asia at the National University of Singapore (NUS), I received my Bachelor degree in Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and Languages & Cultures of Southeast Asia & Oceania (primary focus on Indonesia) and Master degree in Indonesian Studies (specialized in ASEAN Societies, Economy & Politics) at Leiden University, the Netherlands. After receiving my MA, I also obtained a Certificate in the Caribbean Studies Minor at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden.

A Dutch-born Indonesian who moved back and forth between the Netherlands and Indonesia throughout my life, I have been particularly interested in migration backgrounds, the ((post-)colonial) politics that instigated migration flows, minority subcultures, questions of (shifting) identities, and the preservation of cultural elements and practices within dominantly ‘other’ spaces. I have written, among others, about issues of assimilation of the third generation Moluccans in the Netherlands after second generation Moluccans — frustrated by the poor treatment the first generation Moluccans (Dutch colonial army members) received from the Dutch government in the 1950s and 1960s — carried out several terrorist attacks in the 1970s; the migration of more than 30,000 Javanese as contract laborers to Suriname (South America) between 1890-1939 and the development of and shifts in their self-identification, both in Suriname and after their migration to the Netherlands; the Somali refugee community in the Netherlands and their conservation of practicing female circumcision (FGM) in the face of an increasingly right-leaning socio-political climate on the one hand and a hypocritical porn industry on the other hand; and about the (shifting) identities of ethnic-Chinese Indonesians in post-Soeharto Indonesia, especially after the Glodok atrocities in May 1998.

After receiving my degrees I permanently moved back to Indonesia in 2013 and then to Singapore in 2019 to start my PhD. 


In my PhD project, I marry my two biggest passions – feminism (Gender Studies) and Indonesia (Indonesian Studies) — and tie them together with Film Studies and popular culture. Tentatively titled “Anti-Communist Gender Propaganda in Soeharto era Folkloric Horror Films,” my project looks at the specific ways Soeharto’s New Order regime (1966-1998) pushed the ‘Gerwani Hoax’ as a method of anti-Communist propaganda.

After smashing down a ‘Communist Coup’ in 1965, General Soeharto took power and buttressed its legitimacy by a relentless 32-year long anti-Communist propaganda campaign. Central to this perpetual anti-Communist fearmongering was the Indonesian Communist Party affiliated Women’s Movement, Gerwani, who was accused of the sexual assault and murder of six generals. President Soeharto imposed a state gender ideology (State Ibuism), which was propagated in miscellaneous ways, including film. During Soeharto’s regime, all aspects of film were placed within the Department of Information, which was put under the umbrella of the Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security. Not only were all films thoroughly subjected to censorship; film narratives were interconnected with state narratives – and hence anti-Communist gender propaganda. While the connection between gender propaganda and Indonesian horror films has been proven, the connection between Gerwani and the ‘monstrous-feminine’ in horror films as an anti-Communist propaganda method has been overlooked. My project fills this gap by analyzing Soeharto era folkloric horror films that include the Indonesian folkloric ‘monstrous-feminine’.

A common thread in my academic interests is the intersection of gender with (post-)colonial history, politics, and the usage (exploitation) of local cultural elements to uphold – or defy – prevailing power balances.

I will present my work at the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS 12) in Kyoto in August 2021.