Humanitarian Subjects in Post-Conflict and Post-Tsunami Aceh, Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 06 February 2013


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Jesse Grayman


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 5954
In this talk I discuss how the humanitarian encounter in Aceh following the tsunami and then the Helsinki peace agreement has produced a diverse array of new ‘humanitarian subjectsŸ? and their impact on the tentative revival of Aceh’s civil society. I begin with a review of two contrasting short essays written by young Acehnese intellectuals that were published during the urgent early years of humanitarian intervention in Aceh. The writers take us back to the utter catastrophe of tsunami but do not neglect to acknowledge how Aceh’s history of separatist conflict has had an impact on recovery efforts. Their narratives set up representative endpoints in a range of outcomes produced by Acehnese civil society’s encounter with humanitarianism. At one end of the spectrum we have subjects that some in the humanitarian industry’and in local parlance’have labeled ‘champions.Ÿ? At the other end of the spectrum we have humanitarian subjects committed to efforts that expose and disrupt hierarchy. Based upon a series of ethnographic interviews I conducted in 2012, I fill in this broad spectrum of outcomes with the life histories and recollections of a group of informants who have been active participants in civil society during and after Aceh’s so-called ‘NGO era.Ÿ?

Jesse Hession Grayman recently completed his PhD in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The title of his dissertation is “Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia” based on five years of fieldwork in Aceh working with four different international humanitarian and development organizations involved in post-conflict recovery.

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