The podcast ‘Dealing with the Past in Indonesia’ is a recording of a public talk I chaired at King’s College London in December 2013. Prof. John Sidel (LSE) and Mr Paul Barber (TAPOL) provided extensive analysis and commentary on the event that the movie deals with: the 1965/66 mass killings of at least 500,000 alleged ‘communists’ in Indonesia.


One of the most powerful and provocative documentaries, the film shows local gangsters in Medan, Sumatra re-enacting in vivid and sometimes sickening detail the killing of alleged communists during the events that followed former President Suharto’s rise to power in Indonesia in 1965. At least 500,000 people were murdered and up to one million were held without charge or trial, many of them tortured. Since the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, former political prisoners, researchers and human rights activists have started documenting the widespread human rights violations, including crimes against humanity. The movie invites reflection on the perpetrators of mass violence, and on dealing with a violent past in Indonesia and elsewhere.

The documentary ‘THE ACT OF KILLING’ has won many prestigious film prices around the world, including a nomination for the Oscars in the category ‘best documentary’. It also won best documentary at the 2014 BAFTA awards.

A list of important commentaries and reflections on the movie and information on the human rights campaign ‘minta maaf! say sorry for 65’ can be found here.

A brief interview on my new research project.

What is the overarching goal of this project?

We aim to understand how gender relations and armed violence relate to each other in various social conflicts, such as vigilante, communal or insurgent violence, in order to propose policy recommendations on gender-sensitive peacebuilding efforts. …

The Programme on Gender and Global Change (PGGC) at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva is looking to fill the position of Research Assistant (50%) for its project “Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding”. For more information click here.

Project Funding: 3 years

The Swiss Progamme for Research on Global Issues for Development has approved a multi-year research grant for the research project Gender Dimensions of Social Conflict, Armed Violence and Peacebuilding that I co-lead with Prof. Elisabeth Prügl at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. Within this North-South-South research collaboration we partner with researchers in Indonesia and Nigeria as well as international and civil society organizations in West Africa and Southeast Asia. Initial funding has been granted for the first three years and would be extended for a second three-year term upon successful mid-term evaluation of the research project.

Background to the project: Quantitative research has demonstrated a strong correlation between levels of gender inequality and violent conflict, suggesting that women’s subordination and vulnerability is a significant predictor of armed violence. This project takes the proposed correlation to the micro-level, investigating what mechanisms link gender relations and dynamics of violence.  Over the next three years, a multi-national research team will examine statistical materials, comb newspaper articles, and conduct interviews in Indonesian and Nigerian conflict zones that have experienced various types of armed conflict, comparing violent and nonviolent communities. We aim to provide empirical evidence on micro-level gender dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding that informs policy makers on gender-sensitive peacebuilding efforts.

The Nigerian National Working Group on Armed Violence and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) have published a report that maps civil society activities aiming to prevent and reduce armed violence. The report provides an important overview about “who does what” by region and state and facilitates civil society collaboration on peacebuilding initiatives.