Wedforum Sept.18: Collective Memory and Reconciliation in Post-1965 Indonesia

Wednesday, Sept.18, 2013. @ 1-3 PM  Room 406 

Graduate School Building 4 floor, UGM.

Jl. Teknika Utara, Pogung, Yogyakarta



Looking at the case of the 1965 Tragedy in Indonesia, when reportedly millions of alleged communist were massacred and heavily persecuted, this paper tries to explain the challenges facing the attempt to use historical dialogue as a tool to jumpstart reconciliation process in the country. I contend that the Indonesians’ specific way of remembering the 1965 Tragedy has actually been impeding the reconciliation process itself. Marginalization of those affected by the 1965 Tragedy in telling their past memories—thus preventing them from becoming a part of the nation’s history-constructing process—tends to merge their voices, once they have spoken, under the single category of “victim, or survivor, narrative.” This tendency overlooks the fact that different victims actually have different position toward the 1965 Tragedy. Meanwhile, a closer examination of the dominant narrative about the 1965 Tragedy shows that we cannot simply treat the “propaganda” as a mere fabrication.


Specific memorization about a certain violent experience in the past contributes in shaping the conflicting parties’ perceptions of reconciliation. Therefore, any attempt to utilize historical dialogue as a tool to initiate reconciliation process over the 1965 Tragedy in Indonesia must pay attention to the layers of justification which inform, support, or even provide a basis for each actor’s acts of remembering (or forgetting), and such layers are not separable from the historical, political, social, and economic context in which each actor, including the perpetrators, lives.




Ayu Diasti Rahmawati

xxserves as a researcher at the Center for Security and Peace Studies (CSPS) of the Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She obtained her Master degree in International Affairs in May 2013 from the Graduate Program of International Affairs (GPIA) at the New School University, New York. Her current research interests include memory studies in conflict resolution, the dynamics between peace-building and state-building in conflict-affected states, as well as genocide studies with area focus of South East Asia, especially Indonesia and Timor-Leste. She can be reached at:




Leo. C. Epafras, Ph.D

Faculty member of Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies.




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