In the aftermath of the 1965 killings, Suharto’s New Order regime in Indonesia initiated a series of policies and ideological programs that sought to turn the Southeast Asian nation into an “integral state.” The family unit then became institutionalized and idealized as an object providing the state with the necessary discursive language to maintain then-president Suharto’s three-decade long rule. His regime, however, continued to demonize hundreds of thousands of former political detainees, denying their families access to basic rights. Branded as having come from “unclean environments,” the descendants of the Suharto regime’s political detainees continue to face discrimination even after the New Order’s end in 1998. Nevertheless, in the years following reformasi (“reformation”), Indonesia’s increased democratic space provided an opportunity for the voices of former political detainees and their children to emerge. This paper will utilize biographies and oral historical records to understand how the family provided a cocoon-like environment, allowing alternative or discordant narratives to form and coalesce. The author aims to show how the New Order’s repressive policies affected these families with one generation passing onto the next its “tainted DNA.” The author posits that given the lack of a public sphere in discussing the most momentous event in Indonesia, it is the private sphere of the family instead that would serve as an outpost of memory, reminding Indonesia of its “original sin.” It is hoped that this paper would be able to showcase the ability of the narratives from below to sow the seeds of historical and generational reconciliation.


Indonesia, 1965, history, human rights, generations, historical reconciliation

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)