Monday, May 17, 2010

Black May 1998: 12th Commemmoration

Canadians Committed to Ethnic Voice in Indonesia (CCEVI) in collaboration with Southeast Asia Group, Asian Institute, University of Toronto invite all of you to attend a memorial service in commemmoration of Black May 1998 in Indonesia.

Date: May 29, 2010
Time: 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Venue: 108 N - Seminar Room North House
Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Davonshire Place, Toronto, ON M5S 3K7

Sheri Gibbings, a PhD candidate of Department of Anthropology of the University of Toronto will present a talk titled "
Violence, Order, and Talk: A Saat in Yogyakarta, Indonesia."


There has been considerable interest in discussing the rise of inter-communal violence in Indonesia, especially religious and ethnic violence. With few exceptions this literature discusses the role decentralization has played in producing conflict in Indonesia. Another part of this literature has examined the changing role of paramilitary, vigilante and militia groups since the fall of the New Order. Most of these authors agree that since the collapse of the New Order in 1998 there has been less state sponsored violence but an increase of violence and conflict by paramilitary, criminal and vigilante groups that are largely independent from the state. Yet with this democratization of violence in post New Order Indonesia, under what conditions does the state claim the right to use violence? When does the state claim a monopole of the legitimate use of violence and security in this era of increasing privatization of violence?

This talk will explore a relocation of 800 street vendors in Yogyakarta where both the government and street vendors use the threat of violence. I am interested in a particularly tense moment, a few months before a government planned relocation. I argue that this apprehensive moment, assumes a similar structure and feeling evoked in moments such as elections, and as what has been described as a saat in Bahasa Indonesia. I describe how this saat, a possible moment of violence, has its own structure and vocabulary and occupies a space between “actual” and “possible” violence, and how this space generates unique and very powerful structures of feeling, narratives and talk around violence. The narratives associated with this saat are powerful because they are imagined in relation to other incidents of violence in the past and present. In this way, I argue that the talk of violence had a pervasive and persuasive hold over those involved in the relocation because it drew on other abnormal moments from the past, which placed this moment also outside the “normal” and the everyday and to surpass the exigencies of the local and the present.

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