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- Historical Injustice and memory in Indonesia: some comparative reflections
- McGregor, Kate
- In Indonesia half a million people were killed and hundreds of thousands were imprisoned in the counter-revolutionary violence of 1965-68. For thirty years the Suharto regime (1966-98,) which came to power on this violence, celebrated this as a victory over the evils of communism. Suharto made anti-communism a cornerstone of state ideology and continued to demonise those formerly associated with the left, making the public expression of sympathy for those affected by the violence dangerous. With the collapse of this regime in 1998 new possibilities opened for both publicly remembering the violence and for achieving various forms of historical justice. Over the last twelve years a variety of different groups in Indonesia have demanded historical justice and sought to challenge long standing narratives about the violence. They have engaged in projects of alternative truth telling, forms of local reconciliation in addition to the highly sensitive process of mass grave exhumation. At the same time there has been considerable resistance to these initiatives and efforts to defend the long standing view that the violence was justified. Drawing on my research on memories of counter revolutionary violence in Indonesia, this paper will reflect on some of the broader questions raised in research in the field of historical justice and memory studies. In particular the paper will explore: How and why different groups understand, confront or defend their roles as perpetrators, survivors and/or advocates of historical justice? What factors contribute to the momentum for dealing with historical injustice? What role do memories and identities play in either obstructing or assisting in the achievement of historical justice? What constitutes historical justice? Finally the paper will conclude with some reflections on what can be learnt by comparing the Indonesian case to other cases of historical justice and memory.
- Publication type
- Seminar, speech or other presentation
- Paper presented at the ISR 2010 Seminar Series, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, 08 December 2010
- Publication year
- Institute for Social Research, Faculty of Life and Social Sciences, Swinburne University of Technology
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2010.