Cancellations at UWRF 2015 were just the latest example of censorship in democratic Indonesia PDF Afdrukken E-mailadres
donderdag 04 februari 2016 10:55

Democratie is nog ver te zoeken in Indonesië. Persvrijheid met een gekleurde bril.

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After ’98: Censorship, compromises and resistance

Like Toer’s tetralogy before it, Semua Untuk Hindia turns Indonesia’s national history narrative on its head

Ariel Heryanto
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Since the release in the 1980s of Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s internationally acclaimed tetralogy, Iksaka Banu’s Semua Untuk Hindia (2014) has been Indonesia’s first and perhaps sole literary work that radically turns the national history upside down or inside out.

As a piece of literary fiction, the anthology of short stories has earned the recognition it deserves. The Khatulistiwa Literary Award, Indonesia’s most prestigious literary body, selected it as the best prose fiction of the year. However, the book strikes me most profoundly for its achievements in three non-literary areas: a radically new perspective of history; a counter-narrative to the widely held view of Dutch colonialism; and a subversive critique of Indonesia’s hyper-nationalism.

Ironically, the appreciative public has overlooked these elements within the anthology, which I see as perhaps its greatest contribution. To recognise them requires a leap of imagination. Examining the reasons why these non-literary achievements have so far gone unnoticed can provide insight into the dominant consciousness in contemporary Indonesia.

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After ’98: Censorship, compromises and resistance

Cancellations at UWRF 2015 were just the latest example of censorship in democratic Indonesia

Eliza Vitri Handayani
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October was a busy and controversial month for Indonesian literature dealing with the history of the 1965–66 mass killings in Indonesia. First, there was the Frankfurt Book Fair where Indonesia was the focus country then, two weeks after that, the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival (UWRF) was held in Bali. In Frankfurt, the Indonesian delegation, sponsored by the Ministry of Education and Culture, held discussions with writers who have written about the mass killings; in Ubud, UWRF planned to feature events on the same topic but cancelled them after receiving warnings from the local police.

Two sessions unrelated to 1965 were also cancelled at UWRF: a panel called ‘For Bali’ about large-scale water and mangrove reclamation plans, big businesses, and the environmental movement, Bali Tolak Reklamasi (Bali Says No to Reclamation); and the launch of my novel From Now On Everything Will Be Different. The novel tells the story of two young people coming of age in the beginning of reformasi in 1998 and searching for the freedom to be who they are.

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