Report on a Series of Panels ‘After 1965’: The Indonesia Council Open Conference, Deakin University, Geelong July 2-3, 2015.
by Associate Professor Katharine McGregor (University of Melbourne)
To mark the 50 year anniversary Dr Annie Pohlman (University of Queensland) and I organized a series of panels on 1965 for the Indonesia Council Open Conference hosted by Deakin University. We received so many submissions that we were able to fill a complete stream in the conference. Scholars came from not only from Australia, but also from Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Poland to join us.
In panel 1, Re-evaluating Histories of 1965 (1), using the approach of political conspiracy Professor Robert Cribb (Australian National University) argued that one explanation for evidence that we have that does not fit explanations for the September Thirtieth Movement is that it is more than likely that every political group including international players had their own conspiracy plan in place and that some evidence may thus relate to other conspiracies. Dr Abdul Wahid (Gadjah Mada University) examined the effects of 1965 on his home university including purges of students and teachers. Roro Saswita (a researcher and activist from the organization Taman 65) discussed how land reform before 1965 shaped patterns in the 1965 violence in Bali. Dr Jess Melvin (University of Melbourne) argued that the Indonesian military used the Malaysia campaign of Confrontation to prepare civilians for an armed confrontation with the PKI.
In the panel 2, Re-evaluating Histories of 1965 (2), Dr Vannessa Hearman (University of Sydney) surveyed a range of reasons why many people converted to Christianity and Catholicism after the 1965 violence including the care provided by churches for political prisoners. Dr Baskara Wardaya (Sanata Darma University) discussed US Indonesian Relations during the Nixon Administration. He emphasized that Indonesian military leaders sought out active relations with western leaders.
In panel 3, Trauma, Survival and Inter-Generational Memory, Dr Andrew Conroe (National University of Singapore) analysed how so called ‘anak PKI’ (communist children) have represented and been represented by others over time. PhD candidate Ayu Wahyuningroem (Australia National University) reflected on the often forgotten children of the generals murdered by the September Thirtieth Movement and how they may fit into reconciliation processes. Dr Annie Pohlman (University of Queensland) and PhD candidate Narny Yenny (Deakin University) discussed how women survived both during and after the violence especially in terms of providing for their families and negotiating local customs in the absence of imprisoned or murdered spouses.
In Panel 4, 1965 in Political Discourse and Art, Associate Professor Pam Allen (University of Tasmania) analysed how 1965 is referenced in the literary writer Ayu Utami’s Cerita Cinta Enrico through a rush in 1965 to destroy dangerous cultural objects such as the music of Lily Suryanti, who praised President Sukarno in her songs. My paper on Indonesian-Australian artist, Dadang Christanto’s permanent installation, Heads from the North, in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Australia examined how it functions as a transnational/transcultural memorial to the artist’s disappeared father and to all those who died in 1965. Dr Steve Miller (University of Tasmania) canvassed the persistence of anti-communism in the post-New Order period in a range of political contexts including the 2014 Djokowi election campaign.
In Panel 5, 1965 and Historical Justice, PhD candidate Rebecca Meckelberg (University of Western Australia) scrutinized the degree of change in New Order and Post New Order narratives about the violence of 1965. Taking a legal perspective Ms Nukila Evanty (Atmajaya University) examined the findings of KOMNASHAM in its 2012 report on the violence and the terms of the revised Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Professor Akhisa Matsuno (Osaka University) discussed the differences in requirements to establish that either genocide of crimes against humanity had occurred. He promoted greater global recognition of ‘politicide’.
In panel 6, Embodied Memories of 1965, Dr Ken Setiawan (University of Melbourne) and Baskara Wardaya (Sanata Darma University) reflected on their recent trip to Buru Island, the former penal camp for 1965 prisoners. Dr Setiawan discussed sites of memory and family memory at this site and Baskara presented the history of the camp. PhD candidate Marianna Lis (Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences) reflected on some of the performances of the Papermoon Puppet Theatre that have explored 1965 such as Mwathirika (2010) in which the puppets talk with neighbours and relatives about what they remember of the events. Dr Robbie Peters (Sydney University) discussed the concept of the revolutionary body and land seizures prior to the September Thirtieth Movement in Surabaya analyzing how these may explain some aspects of the violence.
The range of papers demonstrates the depth of new research on the 1965 violence being carried out by younger and more established scholars across the world. We are planning a publication based on these papers.