Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher R. Duncan (review)

Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher... Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 320–22 DOI: 10.1355/cs36-2g © 2014 ISEAS ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia. By Christopher R. Duncan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. Softcover: 239pp. Were the savage communal wars that broke out in the Moluccas after the resignation of President Soeharto in 1998 “about” religion, or about access to state resources for predatory local elites? Most studies have argued that it was the latter, but for the non-elite farmers and small-town folk who populate Christopher Duncan’s book, only religion mattered. As one Muslim man told the author “I personally think the conflict was definitely about religion … If it was a political problem I would not have gotten involved. … We opposed Christians and I consider it a jihad” (p. 119). Violence and Vengeance is the best description we have of the post-New Order communal wars from the viewpoint of the participants. It focuses on the long-running fighting in northern Halmahera, part of the Moluccas. Sustained violence also took place in parts of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and elsewhere in the Moluccas, but this was the bloodiest episode of the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher R. Duncan (review)

Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher R. Duncan (review)


Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 320–22 DOI: 10.1355/cs36-2g © 2014 ISEAS ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia. By Christopher R. Duncan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. Softcover: 239pp. Were the savage communal wars that broke out in the Moluccas after the resignation of President Soeharto in 1998 “about” religion, or about access to state resources for predatory local elites? Most studies have argued that it was the latter, but for the non-elite farmers and small-town folk who populate Christopher Duncan’s book, only religion mattered. As one Muslim man told the author “I personally think the conflict was definitely about religion … If it was a political problem I would not have gotten involved. … We opposed Christians and I consider it a jihad” (p. 119). Violence and Vengeance is the best description we have of the post-New Order communal wars from the viewpoint of the participants. It focuses on the long-running fighting in northern Halmahera, part of the Moluccas. Sustained violence also took place in parts of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and elsewhere in the Moluccas, but this was the bloodiest episode of the turbulent years after the collapse of the authoritarian New Order regime in 1998. Fuelled by narratives of revenge and retaliation, Christians and Muslims developed a “war-induced essentialism” (p. 170) about the other. This had no room for tragedy or guilt, and justified one’s own ferocity by the fact that “they started it”. Once the violence had ebbed to exhaustion, participants engaged only reluctantly in rituals of reconciliation. At home many taught their children never again to trust someone from the other faith. “A religious war is...
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Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
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Copyright © The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
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1793-284X
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Abstract

Contemporary Southeast Asia Vol. 36, No. 2 (2014), pp. 320–22 DOI: 10.1355/cs36-2g © 2014 ISEAS ISSN 0129-797X print / ISSN 1793-284X electronic Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia. By Christopher R. Duncan. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013. Softcover: 239pp. Were the savage communal wars that broke out in the Moluccas after the resignation of President Soeharto in 1998 “about” religion, or about access to state resources for predatory local elites? Most studies have argued that it was the latter, but for the non-elite farmers and small-town folk who populate Christopher Duncan’s book, only religion mattered. As one Muslim man told the author “I personally think the conflict was definitely about religion … If it was a political problem I would not have gotten involved. … We opposed Christians and I consider it a jihad” (p. 119). Violence and Vengeance is the best description we have of the post-New Order communal wars from the viewpoint of the participants. It focuses on the long-running fighting in northern Halmahera, part of the Moluccas. Sustained violence also took place in parts of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and elsewhere in the Moluccas, but this was the bloodiest episode of the

Journal

Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic AffairsInstitute of Southeast Asian Studies

Published: Sep 25, 2014

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