Critical Asian Studies, vol. 50, n° 3, 2018
A signaler : 2 articles sur l’Asie du Sud-Est
- Victim-warriors and iconic heroines: photographs of female combatants in Aceh, Indonesia by Elizabeth F. Drexler
Analyzing photos and narratives of the “widows’ battalion” in Aceh, Indonesia that appeared in international and local print media between 2000 and 2002, this article traces how images of female combatants initially provided evidence of a uniformed, armed ethno-nationalist movement motivated by past state violence and linked to historical legends of women involved in armed resistance to colonialism. Subsequently, the heroines were recast as immoral young women pursuing inappropriate sexual relationships with the occupying military. The problems of intelligence gathering, double agents, and the indeterminate zone of overlap in which male soldiers collaborated in the past were rewritten as a problem of sexual or intimate relations that violated religious and cultural norms. In Aceh, the affective power and complexity of women’s positioning as both victim and combatant is fueled by the invocation of the iconic heroines of the anticolonial resistance and ideas about international human rights. Images and narration of the widows’ battalion appear to champion female combatants past and present, but in fact, contribute to the consolidation of the power of male commanders and combatants in the resistance movement. Analyses of human rights photography must consider the affective power of images beyond engaging the empathy of distant spectators to consider their role in conflict dynamics.
- The evolving narrative of denial: the Fraser government and the Timorese genocide, 1975–1980 by Peter Job
As research by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor documents, the years 1975–1980 constituted the worst period of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, during which grave human rights took place involving a high loss of life. In Australia, the government headed by Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (1975–1983) sought to present itself as a supporter of human rights and the international rule of law. It also prioritized relations with the Suharto regime, which it saw as key to its policy position in Southeast Asia. These two positions came into conflict due to the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. The Fraser government therefore worked to propagate a narrative concerning East Timor which denied the seriousness of the situation, distorted the historical narrative, deflected blame from Indonesia, and depicted the Australian position as principled and realistic. This paper examines the development of this narrative as events progressed and information concerning the crisis in East Timor came to the attention of the outside world. It also examines how the Fraser government employed this narrative internationally in order to protect the Suharto regime from scrutiny.