Women’s Sexuality Defamed: The Communist Threat and Women’s Political Agency After the 1965/6 Massacre in Indonesia

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Date(s) - 31/10/2012
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Monash Asia Institute, Room H5.95, Building H


Monash Asia Seminars – CSEAS/MAI seminar

Prof. Dr Saskia E. Wieringa
Chair Women’s Same-Sex Relations Crossculturally, AISSR, University of Amsterdam

In the night of September 30-October 1, 1965 six generals were killed on a field near Jakarta. They were the most senior generals of the Indonesian army. The perpetrators were younger progressive officers who said they wanted to protect President Sukarno from a right-wing coup. General Suharto quickly crushed this putsch and then went on to orchestrate a genocidal terror built on a campaign of sexual slander against the leftist women’s organization Gerwani. His goal was to destroy the communist party, and assume the presidency. He succeeded and established a dictatorship until 1998. In this presentation the Speaker will discuss the ramifications of the accusations of sexual debauchery for women’s political agency. Secondly the Speaker will reflect on the scholarship on that period in Indonesia. The sexual politics behind the genocide of 1965/6 have mostly been ignored by male-stream Indonesianists. What are the ramifications of this blind spot in Indonesian studies?

Note: The seminar will include a screening of part of the new film entitled ‘The Women and the Generals’ by Maj Wechselmann.

Saskia E. Wieringa is an honorary Professor at the University of Amsterdam, holding the Chair on Women’s Same-Sex Relations Crossculturally. She was the Director of Aletta, Institute for Women’s History in Amsterdam. She is also the co-founder and presently secretary of the Kartini Asia Network. She has a long experience of activism in both the women’s and third world solidarity movements. Since the late 1970s she has done research on women’s movements, sexual politics and same-sex relations in many parts of the world, particularly in Indonesia. She wrote and (co-) edited more than 30 books and over 200 articles. Her latest books include: (1999, with E. Blackwood eds) Female Desires; Same-Sex Relations and Transgender Practices Across Cultures. New York: Columbia University Press; Sexual Politics in Indonesia; London: Palgrave/McMillan Publishers; (2003) Lubang Buaya, a novel (in Indonesian) Jakarta: Metafor Publishing (2003); Tommy Boys, Lesbian Men and Ancestral Wives, Women’s Same Sex Experiences in Southern Africa. Johannesburg: Jacana Publishers (2005 with Ruth Morgan); (2006, ed with Thanh-Dam Truong and Amrita Chhachhi) Engendering Human Security. London and New Delhi: Zed Books and Kali (2006, ed with Thanh-Dam Truong and Amrita Chhachhi); Women’s Sexualities and Masculinities in a Globalizing Asia. London: Palgrave. (2007, edited with Evelyn Blackwood and Abha Bhaiya), and Traveling Heritages, Amsterdam Aksant (2008); (2012 co-edited with Nursyahbani Katjasungkana) The Future of Asian Femisms and (forthcoming 2013 co-edited with Horacio Sivori) Sexual Politics in the Global South. Saskia Wieringa received various awards for her scholarly work, most recently the 2011 award for Best Paper, of the Journal of Contemporary Asia.