One propaganda film has haunted Indonesia

Indonesia remains unable to resolve, ignore or forget the multiple issues related to its violent past. Denials and repression of the issues have been the standard strategy. This has been responsible, at least in part, for the tendency to view the rise of Islamisation in an ahistorical fashion and the failure to recognise and control the legacies of past violence and impunity that has spilled into contemporary politics.

Heryanto, Ariel (2023) “One propaganda film has haunted Indonesia”, 360, 14/03/2023,

keywords: 1965, Blitar, Communist, G30S, massacres, New Order

Bersiap: a shared history of mass violence that haunts Indonesia and the Netherlands

Bersiap is only part of a bigger story of mass violence during the 1940s. The latter itself is part of a bigger story of centuries-old colonialism and decolonialisation. What makes Bersiap slightly distinct is its absence in the official histories of both the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Heryanto, Ariel (2022) “Bersiap: a shared history of mass violence that haunts Indonesia and the Netherlands”, The Conversation, 17/02/2022,

Key words: Bersiap, colonial, Dutch, Indo, Indisch, revolusi, Rijksmuseum

The Republic of Indonesia’s Sovereignty

Indonesia’s was the first case of successful formal decolonization through the UN. It inspired several other former colonies. But why has there been no celebration for such important history achievement in Indonesia? Why has it been almost entirely ignored?

Heryanto, Ariel (2021) “The Republic of Indonesia’s Sovereignty”, Kompas, 27/12/2021,

kata kunci: decolonization, diplomacy, gender, colonial, Roundtable Coonferenece, post-colonialism, UN

This article is a translation of the original in Indonesian “Kedaulatan RI


In the beginning, nations emerged in various parts of the world as a form of new solidarity based on equality that resolves, instead of negates, ethnic, racial or religious differences. However, in many parts of the world, the history of national awakening or independence is often inseparable from racial violence, including in the Americas, Europe, Australia and Indonesia.

Heryanto, Ariel (2020) “Solidarity”, Kompas, 4/07/2020.
This piece is Kompas translation of the original in Indonesian, click here.

keywords: Bersiap, Black Lives Matter, Papua, Racism, Chinese

Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia

Click 2019_09_05 Conversation Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia-c

The prevailing hyper-nationalism betrays the modern and cosmopolitan idea of nationhood, which inspired the Indonesian nationalist movement a century ago.

It was a nationalism that is inseparable from internationalism, and the idea of human equality and dignity, as already enshrined in the preamble of the Indonesian constitution.

Heryanto, Ariel (2002) “Tensions in Papua and hyper-nationalism in Indonesia”, The Conversation, 5/09/2019, <;.

keywords: anthem, colonial, fascism, native, New Order, NKRI,

Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing

The notion of hero versus villain is understood differently across time, nations, and even within a single nation-state. Yet, it is still common in many of these instances that those who disagree on the issue can nonetheless exchange views and engage in some form of debate. This chapter examines a radically different case, where the understanding of heroes and villains in one discursive practice is incommensurate and inverted in another.

Heryanto, Ariel (2019) “Heroism and the Pleasure and Pain of Mistranslation; The Case of The Act of Killing”, in B. Korte, S. Wendt and N. Falkenhayner (eds), Heroism as a Global Phenomenon in Contemporary Culture, Routledge: New York, pp. 167-188.

keywords: Cold War, Communist, Discourse, Indonesia, Nazism, New Order

Decolonising Indonesia, Past and Present

Click: 2018_Vol42-No4_ASR Decolonising Indonesia Past and Present-c

In the pursuit of an “authentically Indonesian” nation-state, for decades Indonesians have denied the civil rights of fellow citizens for allegedly being less authentically Indonesian. A key to the longstanding efficacy of such exclusionary ethno-nationalism is the failure to recognise the trans-national solidarity that helped give birth to independent Indonesia.

Ariel Heryanto (2018) Decolonising Indonesia, Past and Present, Asian Studies Review, 42 (4): 607-625, DOI: 10.1080/10357823.2018.1516733

keywords Cold War, colonial, ethnonationalism, identity, Indonesia, Indonesia Calling, Left, trans-national

Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect

2002_11_27 RN-ABC Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect-c

As French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu said, “cultures are those what goes without saying”. To ask why Amrozy and the police should smile is almost like asking why English speaking people always open an official letter with the greeting ‘Dear ….’, even if this is a letter of very serious complaint or protest.

Heryanto, Ariel (2002) “Indonesian Culture, the Police and the Bali Bombing Suspect”, Radio National ABC, 27//11/2002,

keywords: Amrozy, Bali bombing, Pierre Bourdieu, smile

The biggest hoax of all: the 30 September Movement

Click 2018_01_16_IaM_The biggest hoax of all-c

There are two common misconceptions about hoaxes. First, although the word “hoax” is a relatively new term in the Indonesian lexicon, it would be wrong to assume that hoaxes have only become a problem over the past few years, with the rise of social media. Second, hoax news cannot be resolved or debunked simply by providing accurate information as an alternative, especially when nothing is done about the primary hoax.

Heryanto, Ariel (2018) “The biggest hoax of all: the 30 September Movement”, Indonesia at Melbourne, 16/01/2018,

keywords: Budi Pego, Communism, Gerwani, Jokowi, Marxism, PKI