Histories, Aesthetics and Cultures of Dissent
Stephanie Sapiie - Intellectual Identity and Student Dissent in Indonesia in the 1970s
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Intellectual Identity and Student Dissent in Indonesia in the 1970s
Abstract This paper examines themes in student dissident activities in Indonesia (West Java) in the 1970s, a period which followed intense student involvement in the anti-communist movement of 1965–1966. The 1970s marked a new phase in student activism, defined by the rise of new leaders in the student-movement and the rise of intellectual criticism and dissent as a valued activist technique strategically suited to the growing authoritarian landscape of Indonesian politics.
Student dissent is central to the politics and history of modern Indonesia. During the late colonial period of the early 1920s, students were key figures in the anti-colonial nationalist movement. After independence in 1949, Indonesian state-universities saw a growth in regional student enrolment and a rise in political activity fuelled by political party-recruitment. In the mid-1960s, at a time when student activism was a global force for left-wing critiques of state power and war, Indonesian students were implicated in local campaigns of violence against the left-wing—the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI)—and supported the emergence of military rule. Despite the fact that these students were avid consumers of western popular culture, my paper shows that student dissent in the 1960s engaged with the ideologies of student activism in the West in unusual ways. For example, a recent interpretation of the student activist movement as an archetypal cowboy drama draws on a distinctly un-Indonesian image of the outlaw...
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