Review of State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia

Review of State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia: Fatally Belonging, London: Routledge, 2005.

“An extraordinarily rich and compelling narrative of “a world where signs and the world they represent were believed to be inseparable” (p. 32). The detailed exploration of this theme is handled with clarity and conviction, giving the lie to the familiar charge that the post-structuralist concern with signs and discourses is somehow removed from the materiality of social and political processes. In Heryanto’s hands, the attempt to read discursive systems as social texts goes to the heart of the instability that has characterized the exercise of political power in Indonesia during the New Order years and beyond.”

Review by Keith Foulcher, Sojourn, 25 (1), 2010: 139-142.

“This book performs the rare feat of ‘de-provincialising’ Indonesia. . . . This book addresses specifically one important form of political violence in Indonesia — state terrorism. Heryanto’s treatment challenges existing literature and is potentially ground-breaking.”
“Heryanto furthers our understanding of power knowledge and the differential modes of resistance. To this end, I found his discussion in the final chapter on the global dimensions of post-colonial state terrorism, hegemony, consent and resistance, extremely thought provoking. Having plodded through five painstakingly constructed chapters, readers confront once again Heryanto’s strategy of keeping the pendulum swinging between the empirical and the theoretical.”

Review by Sai Siew Min, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 39 (3), 2008: 494-497.

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“Heryanto is blessed with a capacity for compelling narrative. . . . He has a knack of unpicking theory, and herein lies the beauty of the book. Heryanto opts for gentle evocation by backlighting a series of texts and images, which he documents with precision and holds to be telling.”

Review by Emma Baulch, Inside Indonesia, 92(Apr-Jun) 2008.

“It is empirically rich and theoretically informed, analytically innovative and deliberately nuanced. Its arguments are complex, but it is cogently organized and lucidly written in most parts. It is perceptive and timely, and it transcends the often restrictive disciplinary and theoretical straitjackets in exploring a particular case of state terrorism and its social imbrications. Moreover, it carries significant implications, both theoretical and methodological, on the analysis of certain aspects of the now-ubiquitous studies on the phenomenon of transnational terrorism and state terrorism. . . . I hazard a view that it will, in time, be recognized as pathbreaking.”

Review by Rommel A. Curaming, Kasarinlan, 22(2) 2007: 142-147.

“Ariel Heryanto’s book fills this gap. Its analysis of repression and the discourse that authorised it in the Suharto years is subtle and theoretically sophisticated, and yet avoids euphemism and equivocation. . . . Heryanto has long been one of the most theoretically challenging, original and stimulating scholars writing on Indonesian politics, and this book is the culmination of his work so far. In it, he engages subtly with complex theories about power, discourse and identity.”

Review by Edward Aspinall, Asian Studies Review, 31 (2), 2007: 191-210.

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“Heryanto’s analysis of power is subtle and original, informed by both a deep knowledge of recent events in Indonesia and an admirable familiarity with social theory. Not many writers on Indonesian politics draw upon semiotics and poststructuralism with such aplomb.”

Review by John Roosa, Pacific Affairs, 79 (1/Spring) 2006: 154-155.

“One of the stars of a new generation of Western-educated Indonesian scholars, Ariel is deeply engaged with contemporary Indonesian culture and criticism, and able to tease out meaning from sources as diverse as pop album covers, video games and what he calls the ‘subversion by hyper-obedience’ of mass rallies during election campaigns. Ariel’s knowledge of and insights into Indonesian popular culture add depth and specifi city to his theorising, and give his book unparalleled authority.”

Review by Janet Steele, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 42 (3/Dec), 2006: 405-406.

“The book’s theoretical sophistication lies in its critical engagement with cultural politics literature, long neglected in Indonesian studies (p. 151). But Heryanto is no slave to the critical literatures that inform this book and there are strong cautionary notes for students of postcolonial authoritarianism.”

Review by Simon Philpott, Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 40 (2), 2006: 149–151.

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“State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia provides an insightful look at one of the crucial memories of Indonesia as a nation state, and Heryanto is very comprehensive in exploring both empirical and theoretical angles in explaining”

Review by Ignatius Haryanto, The Jakarta Post, 12/11/2006.

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“Compelling and should deter readers from the popular tendency to regard Indonesia in a reductionist manner. State Terrorism, however, is more immediately relevant to today’s situation, when another kind of master narrative – that of Islamic terrorism – is spreading in the Western world.”

Review by Dewi Anggraeni, Weekend Australia, 11-12/02, 2006: R8-9.



Review of Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia

Review of Challenging Authoritarianism in Southeast Asia; Comparing Indonesia and Malaysia, (co-editor with Sumit K. Mandal), London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

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    “This empirically rich and theoretically well-informed collection of comparative essays on women, intellectuals, art workers and industrial workers, as well as environmental and Islamic activists in Indonesia and Malaysia during the late 1990s is an interesting attempt to excavate the complex social forces that are currently forming the civil societies in the two countries.”

    Review by Michael Jacobsen, Asian Studies Review, 28 (3), 2004: 342-343.

    “Together, the six essays and the incisive introduction provide some new ways of looking at authoritarianism in the region. Whether soft or hard, the phenomenon needs to be better understood in local contexts. The remedy against its persistence and its spread may not be found in borrowing from the West and confronting it with set arguments about democracy being the only antidote to this particular ailment.”

    Review by Wang Gungwu, Contemporary Southeast Asia, 26 (1/Apr), 2004: 181-183.

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    “The book constitutes a vital contribution, as its contributors provide detailed empirical accounts of social activists and ‘extra-parliamentary actors’ working outside of formal institutional frameworks, as well as describing sets of political dynamics away from political elites.”

    Review by Ian Wilson, Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 10 (August), 2004.

  • 2004_04_25 THE NATION The Lessons of Reformasi-c
    “While the book is written in the strict fashion of academic writing developed in the West, most of the book’s contributors are local scholars who themselves have had direct personal involvement with the activism discussed. This is not a book written by armchair academics in a faraway air-conditioned ivory tower.”

    Review by Rungrawee C Pinyorat, The Nation, 25/04/2004: 8B.

  • 2003_10_05_TJP Southeast Asia Dare Say Enough Is Enough-c
    “Ariel Heryanto, Sumit Mandal and their cowriters are to be congratulated for the publication of this important book. Written and conceptualized in the period leading up to the reformasi (refonn) upheavals in Indonesia, and Malaysia, it offers the reader a serious and in-depth evaluation of the sociopolitical implications of those events. More than that, it examines and offers fresh analyses of the challenges to the persistence of authoritarianism.”

    Review by Johan Saravanamuttu, The Jakarta Post, 5/11/2003: 8.

  • 2003_09_No16_OPTIONS2 The Establishment and The People-c
    “This book seeks to record one aspect of life in Malaysia and Indonesia. the battle of the last few years against oppression. It does not provide any blue print for the future but it does provide valuable insights into the present – insights that are necessary for a more accurate view of the socio-political situation of the two countries. This is important not only for aiding a better understanding of one another, but also as a foundation upon which to build a more cohesive and informed approach towards the opposition of tyranny. A foundation cannot be built upon the rubble of home truths.”

    Review by Azmi Sharom, Options2, 9 (16/Sept), 2003: 26.

  • 2003_09_15_TEMPO Neighborhood Watch-c
    “The editors and contributors have skillfully maintained their focus on the issue while successfully avoiding the obvious danger of digressing, thus opening Pandora’s box and overreaching.”

    Review by Dewi Anggraeni, Tempo, 15/09/2003: 64.

Review of Politics and the Press in Indonesia: Understanding an Evolving Political Culture

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Heryanto, Ariel (2004) review of Politics and the Press in Indonesia: Understanding an Evolving Political Culture by Angela Romano, Sojourn, 19 (1 /April): 147-150.

keywords: book review, Indonesia, press, politics