Survivor testimonies of torture and mapping incidents of violence during the New Order

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 13 June 2018


McDonald Room, Menzies Library entry level, RG Menzies Building 2, ANU


Annie Pohlman


ANU Indonesia Project

Torture remains an endemic crime perpetrated with impunity in Indonesia. This research attempts to map the spread and evolution of torture during the New Order regime (1966–1998) in order to understand how this violence was normalised. The project will map what forms of torture were used, when, and in which contexts across the archipelago and throughout the 33 years of the regime.

To achieve this, the project combines a nested quantitative analysis within a larger qualitative, oral history-based study. The project is based on a large dataset of survivor and witness testimonies and reports about experiences of torture during the regime. Due to the volume of these reports, the qualitative textual content analysis common within oral history-based research was insufficient to analyse the more than 6000 (and growing) cases. In order to trace larger patterns within this dataset, descriptive statistics are used to map the locations and timing of incidents of torture, in order to establish broad patterns of incidents over time.

The research discusses the preliminary findings of these descriptive statistical analyses and reflect on their usefulness to support the textual analysis of these testimonies.

Dr Annie Pohlman is a Senior Lecturer in Indonesian studies in the School of Languages and Cultures, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia. She is author of Women, Sexual Violence and the Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966 (2015) and co-editor of Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia (2013) and The Indonesian Genocide of 1965: Causes, Dynamics and Legacies (2018). She is currently completing a co-authored book on mutilation and symbolic violence during the genocides in Indonesia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Her current research programme involves mapping incidents of torture throughout the New Order period (1966–1998) in Indonesia, in order to understand how this violence was normalised.

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