Embodied Memories and Spaces of Healing: Culturally-Centering Voices of the Survivors of 1965 Indonesian Mass Killings

  • Dyah PitalokaEmail author
  • Mohan Jyoti Dutta


This essay discusses the role of voice in witnessing pain amid state-military sponsored genocide situated within the overarching framework of Cold War authoritarian capitalism, offering a culture-centered framework for memorializing the torture carried out by dominant socio-political structures, thus resisting the narrative erasure reproduced by the propaganda machine of Cold War imperialism at national and global levels. Through a close examination of narratives co-created by the children of the survivors of the 1965–66 mass killings of in Indonesia, the essay offers the culture-centered approach as a framework for participants to voice their experiences of trauma, death, and loss, finding expression for experiences that are otherwise un-shareable, and often stigmatized in mainstream public discourses. Situating the stories of torture and violence amid national-global political economy, the voices of the survivors and their children interrupt the state narrative, and the narrative constructed by the hegemony of liberal capitalism. Drawing from stories and experiences shared by the children of the survivors, and related cultural artifacts, such as photographs, personal diary, and published texts; we suggest the role of communication scholarship in the co-creation of disruptive spaces for alternative narratives of healing emerging from our participants’ memories of tortured bodies. Accounts of the past shared between researchers and the children of the survivors co-creates entry points for both individual and collective public narratives of resistance that disrupt the erasures produced by national-global power structures and their public relations tools.


1965 mass killings Memory Narratives Healing Resistance Culture-centered approach 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Languages and CulturesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE)Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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