Dr Annie Pohlman


In this paper I examine and compare the forms of spectacularised violence perpetrated against civilians by the Indonesian military and co-opted civilian militias during two periods of protracted crimes against humanity: the Indonesian killings of 1965–1966 and the occupation of Timor Leste between 1975 and 1999. I focus on specific forms of physical violence against the bodies of internal enemies of the Indonesian military: against suspected Communists during the mass killings of 1965-1966 and against suspected independence separatists or FRETILIN supporters in Timor Leste. I compare the forms of this violence and the places where this violence was enacted in order to highlight their communicative intent (Rothenberg, 2003). Understood as acts of ‘public presentational torture’, these acts of spectacularised violence involved the intentional display or presentation of torture and of deceased, often mutilated human bodies or body parts in places of general public activity with the purpose of intimidating or terrorising the population (Feldman, 1991; Appadurai, 1998). Such acts were a frequent feature of the Indonesian military’s terror tactics during both periods. By comparing the forms of this violence during the two conflict periods, I aim to understand better the broader practices of torture perpetrated during Indonesia’s “New Order” military regime (1965–1998).

Speaker Bio

Dr Annie Pohlman is Lecturer in Indonesian studies at The School of Languages and Cultures, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. She is author of Women, Sexual Violence, and the Indonesian Killings of 1965-1966(Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia: Legacies and Prevention (Routledge, 2013). Her research interests include comparative genocide studies, Indonesian history, gendered experiences of violence, and torture. Her current research program tracks forms of torture throughout Indonesia’s “New Order” military regime (1965–1998). 


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