Approximately one million innocent Indonesians were killed by their fellow nationals, neighbors, and kin at the height of an anti-communist campaign in the mid-1960s. This book investigates the profound political consequences of these mass killings in Indonesia upon public life, highlighting the historical specificities of the violence and comparable incidents of identity politics in more recent times.
Mixing theory with empirically based analysis, the book examines how the specter of communism and the trauma experienced in the latter half of the 1960s remain critical in understanding the dynamics of terror, coercion, and consent today. Heryanto challenges the general belief that the periodic anti-communist witch-hunts of recent Indonesian history are largely a political tool used by a powerful military elite and authoritarian government. The book investigates what drove otherwise apolitical subjects to be complicit in the engulfing cycles of witch-hunts. It argues that elements of what began as an anti-communist campaign took on a life of their own, increasingly operating independently of the violence and individual subjects who appeared to be manipulating the campaigns in the 1980s and 1990s.
Despite the profound importance of the 1965-6 events it remains one of most difficult and sensitive topics for public discussion in Indonesia today. State Terrorism and Political Identity in Indonesia is one of the first books to fully discuss the mass killings, shedding new light on a largely unspoken and unknown part of Indonesia's history.