Fatimah and the Struggle against History

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

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 30 November 2011


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Catherine Smith (School of Archaeology and Anthropology, ANU)


Indonesia Project
+ 61 2 6125 3794
This paper is part of a broader project that examines the various ways that Acehnese people take up the loanword trauma in the post-conflict period.

One of the key ways in which my interlocutors use the term ‘trauma’ is in their reflections on the nature of history. This paper takes the life histories of four Acehnese women, and looks at the ways in which they narrate their own life experiences in relation to a broader imaginary of history. The loanword trauma signifies what they recognise as the paradoxical nature of history: namely that history causes suffering while also forming the bravery necessary to withstand suffering.

By approaching ‘trauma’ as an idiom of distress, my research moves away from anthropological debates about the universality of trauma. Rather, these Acehnese women illustrate how people take up globalised and vernacularised tropes from medicine to comprehend and organise responses to violence.

This event has been cancelled

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