Melbourne Historians of Asia Forum

You are cordially invited to the

Melbourne Historians of Asia Forum

hosted by the

Asia History Hub

Theme:  Current directions in Asian histories

Room: Old Quad-G18 (Cussonia Court Room 2), University of Melbourne, Parkville.

Date: Friday, 11 September, 2015

Time: 10:00-12:00  (Lunch to follow)

We are looking forward to some networking between historians at different institutions.  This is planned as a meeting of historians, rather than of Asian Studies more broadly, but we recognize that disciplinary boundaries are blurred and welcome expressions of interest in participation.  We hope to have some representation from across the spectrum, from early career to senior historians, and from Australia-Asia as well as mainstream Asia areas of historical research. (On the Melbourne University side, both academic staff and RHD students will be participating. )  Please pass on to relevant parties.

Antonia Finnane, AHHub coordinator

Queries can be directed to Antonia at, or Shan Windscript (email as below).

RSVP with name, institution, and short paragraph on areas of research interest to:

Report on a Series of Panels ‘After 1965’: The ICOC Conference

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.

Please help spread the word to your students about this Asia related event on campus next Tuesday

Dear Asian History Hub staff and postgrads.

I hope the semester has started well for you. I just wanted to ask you to promote this event (taking place next Tuesday) in your classes if you can. The event is related to issues of historical memory and justice in Indonesia and more broadly. I really hope to see you all there as well for this event sponsored by the Hub. Please let me know if you can make it. Please also send to other asian history postgrads I might have missed here.

The Melbourne University Indonesia Forum and Asia History Hub are hosting the award winning documentary film director Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing / The Look of Silence) at the University of Melbourne.

Joshua Oppenheimer, who is in Melbourne as a special guest of the Melbourne International Film Festival, will hold an exclusive Q & A with ABC Radio National’s Jason Di Rosso on Tuesday, 11 August, 1- 2.30pm @ the open stage, 757 Swanston St (cnr. Grattan St).

**This is a free event but seats are limited so please arrive early to guarantee your seat**

The Look of Silence (2014) is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing (2012).


Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence.

The Act of Killing exposed the consequences for all of us when we build our everyday reality on terror and lies. The Look of Silence explores what it is like to be a survivor in such a reality.

If possible, it would be really wonderful if you could help us promote this University-sponsored event to your students and fellow colleagues.

Help get the word out:

– post the event poster and details through your LMS subject pages

– post the event poster and details through your student and staff email lists

Please find attached a PDF and JPEG copy of the event poster.

The online link to the event poster is:

A trailer for the Act of Killing can be viewed at

A trailer for The Look of Silence can be viewed at:


In addition to his appearance at the University, Joshua will also be speaking at the Melbourne International Film festival. This event is co-sponsored by the Melbourne University Indonesia forum and the Herb Feith Foundation.

For details:

The Look of Silence will have three screenings at the Melbourne International Film Festival:

Joshua Oppenheimer in Conversation

It is with great excitement that we can now confirm the details for the upcoming event with award winning documentary film maker Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing/ The Look of Silence) at the University of Melbourne.

Joshua Oppenheimer will hold an exclusive Q & A with ABC Radio National’s Jason Di Rosso on Tuesday, 11 August, 1- 2.30pm @ the open stage, 757 Swanston St (cnr. Grattan St).

This is a free event but seats are limited so please arrive early to guarantee your seat.

If possible, it would be really wonderful if you could help us promote this event, which is sponsored by the SHAPS Asia History Hub, the Melbourne University Indonesia Forum and the Herb Feith Foundation, to your students and fellow colleagues.

In addition to sticking up posters for the event, we are hoping to post details of the event through the LMS system and to spruik the event in lectures. We would be most grateful if you could help us spread the word.


A trailer for The Look of Silence can be viewed at:

The Look of Silence will have three screenings at the Melbourne International Film Festival:

In addition to his appearance at the university, Joshua will also be speaking at the Melbourne International Film festival. This event is co-sponsored by the Melbourne University Indonesia forum and the Herb Feith Foundation.

For details:


Please help us to get the word out!

Many thanks,

Jess Melvin

Event: Towards Reconciliation: Indonesia and East Timor 40 Years On, 4 June 2014

Indonesia Forum, Asian History Hub, the University of Melbourne & Herb Feith Foundation present

Towards Reconciliation: Indonesia and East Timor 40 Years On

Date: 4 June 2015

Panel Discussion: 4pm-6pm

Lecture: 6.30-7.45pm

Multi-Function Room, 1888 Building (198) (rear),

The University of Melbourne, Parkville

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. To reflect on this anniversary the Indonesia Forum and the Asian History Hub (both at the University of Melbourne) and the Herb Feith Foundation will host a panel discussion and a lecture on the afternoon/ evening of June 4, 2015.

In the afternoon discussion panel Associate Professor Michael Leach (Swinburne University), Dr Vannessa Hearman (Sydney University), PhD candidate Hannah Loney (University of Melbourne) and East Timorese postgraduate student Fransedes Suni (RMIT) will speak on histories of activism concerning the Indonesian occupation and the steps Indonesians and East Timorese have taken towards reconciliation since Timor-Leste’s independence in 1999.

This will be followed by a lecture entitled ‘Thunder in the Silent Zone: the Chega! and Per Memoriam Reports in Indonesia’ by activist Pat Walsh, former advisor to the CAVR, focusing on the official Indonesian and East Timorese reports on how to deal with the legacies of the occupation and pre independence violence.

Following the publication of the CAVR report (Chega!) in Indonesia, Pat Walsh has spent several months discussing it and the 2008 joint Indonesia/Timor-Leste report Per Memoriam Ad Spem with universities and think tanks in Indonesia in the context of reclaiming Indonesia’s wider past history and addressing victims’ rights. He has found that residual Soeharto era misrepresentations and denial continue at official levels to the detriment of the truth, reconciliation and victims, but that a new generation of Indonesian intellectuals are open to a different narrative on East Timor when it is put to them.

Refreshments will be served before the lecture

RSVP: 1 June 2015

To register:

Printed ticket is not necessary for entry.

AHHub Morning Tea, Friday 24 April

Asian History Hub Morning Tea, 11 a.m., Room 509, 757 Swanston St, Friday, 24 April.

The AHHub team would like to use this occasion to meet new people at the university with interests in the history of Asia, and to engage in a roundtable conversation about fieldwork and overseas research for students of Asian history.

Please RSVP to Shan Windscript at by 23 April if you would like to attend.

At the 2015 AAS Conference in Chicago

Braving a cold early-spring in Chicago, a number of staff, students and alumni of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, made their journey across the Pacific to attend the annual conference of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), which was held on March 26-29.

PhD student Shan Windscript assembled a panel on “Life Writing in Modern Asia,” exploring the Self and histories in personal narratives of Japan, China and Malaysia. The cross-border panel included a paper by Jason Sze Chieh Ng, a PhD candidate in the School, entitled: “Jungle Lives: Malaya As Depicted in Malayan Communist Memoirs.” Shan Windscript also presented a paper: “Making Revolutionary Selves: Diaries, Diary Writing, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution.” 



Associate Professor Katharine McGregor convened two invited panels at the AAS conference profiling recent research on the 1965 anti communist violence in Indonesia. She was invited by the Southeast Asia Council to convene these panels because of the 50th anniversary of this violence in 2015. The first panel entitledNew Research Findings and Approaches to Understanding the 1965 Anti-communist Violence in Indonesia’ featured a paper by Dr. Jess Melvin (a recently completed PhD graduate in SHAPS) entitled: Mechanics of Mass Murder: Understanding the Indonesian Genocide as a Centralised and Intentional Military Campaign’.

The second panel entitled Activism and Justice for the Survivors and Victims of the 1965 Violence in Indonesia featured our former Phd graduate Dr Vannessa Hearman (Sydney University) giving a paper entitled  ‘Extending the fight: Letterwriting in the campaign for the 1965-66 political prisoners in Indonesia’ and Associate Professor Katharine McGregor presenting a paper entitled: ‘The World Was Silent? Global Communities of Resistance to the 1965 Repression in the Cold War Era’. Both panels were attended by around 30 conference participants. 



Further to this Associate Professor Katharine McGregor has co-organised with Dr Annie Pohlman of the University of Queensland 6 panels on the 1965 violence for the Indonesia Council Open Conference to be hosted by Deakin University in Geelong on July 2 and 3, 2015.