10 Great Books: Pramoedya Ananta Toer,
This Earth of Mankind (1980)

This month, Professor Vedi Hadiz delivers a masterclass on the series' first Indonesian text This Earth of Mankind.

Associate Professor Tim Lynch, convener of 10 Great Books, will introduce you to our speakers each month and facilitate audience questions following their presentation.

Professor Hadiz’s masterclass on This Earth of Mankind
Professor Vedi Hadiz and Associate Professor Tim Lynch answer questions from our audience

'A story of oppression, injustice, and one young man's political, emotional, and intellectual awakening'

Set at the turn of the 20th century, during Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia, This Earth of Mankind is the first of the four books that comprise Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet. It is a story of oppression, injustice, and one young man's political, emotional, and intellectual awakening - written while Pramoedya was confined on the prison island of Buru, where prisoners did hard labour and suffered starvation diets, beatings, and torture.

The narrator is Minke, the first native Javanese boy to attend an elite Dutch colonial high school. A brilliant student and descendant of Javanese royalty, Minke's political consciousness evolves as he is forced to confront the entrenched antagonisms of a society built upon oppression. The book was banned during the authoritarian New Order period in Indonesia.

This Masterclass will discuss how the book's themes transcend its historical setting - raising questions about social justice, racial and gender equality and political consciousness - and why it should be considered dangerous by all authoritarian regimes.

Extra resources

Professor Glyn Davis
Professor Vedi Hadiz

About Professor Vedi Hadiz

Professor Vedi Hadiz is Director and Professor of Asian Studies at the Asia Institute and an Assistant Deputy Vice-Chancellor International, University of Melbourne.

He was previously Professor of Asian Societies and Politics at Murdoch University's Asia Research Centre and Director of its Indonesia Research Programme. An Indonesian national, he was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in 2010-2014. Professor Hadiz received his PhD at Murdoch University in 1996 where he was Research Fellow until he went to the National University of Singapore in 2000.

At NUS, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology until returning to Murdoch in 2010. His research interests revolve around political sociology and political economy issues, especially those related to the contradictions of development in Indonesia and Southeast Asia more broadly, and more recently in the Middle East.

10 Great Books: a Melbourne Masterclass

The Faculty of Arts proudly presents the book club to end all book clubs: 10 Great Books, a Melbourne Masterclass. Each month, hear leading academics and experts give their take on a text that has shaped the way we see the world.

We ask the big questions about how our selected books captured the zeitgeist and shifted the culture. The ten diverse texts will become our window into politics, art, love, death, and everything in between. Now in its seventh year, 10 Great Books has traversed the broad history of the written word, exploring great novels, non-fiction, plays, poetry, pamphlets and more.

Visit the 10 Great Books website for this year's program and speaker information.

Learn more