Hanna Rambe’s Mirah of Banda as a ‘Quiet’ Narrative on Livability

V. Bharathi Harishankar

Professor and Head, Department of Women Studies, University of Madras. Email:

Volume 11, Number 1, 2019 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v11n1.07


Hanna Rambe’s Mirah of Banda presents the life of the protagonist from the age of five to her twilight years, as a kidnapped child, nutmeg worker on contract, concubine of the Dutch master and cook in the modern Indonesian household. In the process, it captures the vicissitudes of her life against the historical background of the Dutch colonial era, Japanese occupation, Revolution and contemporary times in Indonesia. Read in this light, the text reveals a life of slavery and servitude with implications on an individual’s human rights as well as the precarious nature of the lives of the marginalised. The present study uses the framework of a ‘quiet’ narrative on livability to establish the moments of performativity in the text as well as to examine the idea of a life of dignity during crisis moments in history.

Keywords: human rights narrative, Indonesian history, precarity and performativity, quiet narrative, livability.