To remain myself: The history of Onghokham

Crawford School of Public Policy | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 02 November 2022




David Reeve (UNSW)


Alex Gotts

Join in-person: McDonald Room, Menzies Library, 2 McDonald Place, ANU

Join online:
Webinar ID: 850 4235 3685
Passcode: 029070

Note: The book will be available for sale at the event. Please bring $34 in exact cash if you would like to buy a copy.

About this seminar

In this presentation, David Reeve will discuss his new biography of Onghokham, the hedonist historian and eccentric public intellectual (1933-2007). Onghokham was an important figure, who witnessed modern Indonesian history from a unique angle, as a multiple minority figure: of Chinese descent, from a Dutch-oriented family, with no religion, gay, hard drinking, pork eating. Yet he became one of Indonesia’s most famous and wide-ranging historians. Unlike much biographical writing on Indonesian subjects, To Remain Myself. The History of Onghokham recounts in detail Onghokham’s inner life, including his fears and confusions, his struggles with his sexuality, and his mental breakdown and jailing in 1966.

In this presentation, Professor Reeve will discuss the process of writing the biography, as well as what it tells us, not only about Onghokham’s personal and professional life, but about Indonesian history writ large.

About David Reeve

David Reeve has been visiting Indonesia for over fifty years, as a diplomat, researcher, historian, language teacher and program manager. He has worked in a dozen Indonesian universities. In the 1980s he was the founding Australian lecturer in the Australian Studies program at Universitas Indonesia. In the later 1990s he was the Resident Director of ACICIS at Universitas Gadjah Mada. He has published on Indonesian history and politics, Indonesian language, Indonesian popular culture, and Australian-Indonesian relations. He is retired from UNSW and has just published the biography of his old friend and historian/eccentric Onghokham.

This seminar will be livestreamed and recorded.

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