The contestation of social memory in the new media: A case study of the 1965 killings in Indonesia


  • Hakimul Ikhwan Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
  • Vissia Ita Yulianto Gadjah Mada University
  • Gilang Desti Parahita Gadjah Mada University



1965 killings, master vs counter narratives, memory studies, new media, Southeast Asia


While today’s Indonesian democratic government remains committed to the New Order orthodoxy about the mass killings of 1965, new counter-narratives challenging official history are emerging in the new media. Applying mixed-methods and multi-sited ethnography, this study aims to extend our collaborative understanding of the most recent developments in this situation by identifying multiple online interpersonal stories, deliberations, and debates related to the case as well as offline field studies in Java and Bali. Practically and theoretically, we ask how the tragedy of the 1965 killings is contested in the new media and how social memory plays out in this contestation. The study finds that new media potentially act as emancipatory sites channeling and liberating the voices of those that the nation has stigmatized as ‘objectively guilty’. We argue that the arena of contestation is threefold: individual, public vs. state narrative, and theoretical. As such, the transborder space of the new media strongly mediates corrective new voices to fill missing gaps in the convoluted history of this central event of modern Indonesian history.

Author Biographies

Hakimul Ikhwan, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia

Hakimul Ikhwan is a sociologist and lecturer at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social and Political Science as well as a researcher at the Centre for Population and Policy Studies at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. 

Vissia Ita Yulianto, Gadjah Mada University

Vissia Ita Yulianto is a socio-cultural anthropologist. She is a researcher at the Center for Southeast Asian Social Studies, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, and a lecturer at the Graduate Program of Performance and Visual Art Studies at the same university.

Gilang Desti Parahita, Gadjah Mada University

Gilang Desti Parahita is a communication scientist and lecturer at the Department of Communication Science at the Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. 


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