Hearing the 1965-66 Indonesian anti-communist repression: Sensory history and its possibilities
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Sound forms the backbone of farm labourer Niko’s memories of the 1965–66 anti-communist repression in Indonesia, as he related in his interview for an oral history collection, edited by fellow former political prisoner, Putu Oka Sukanta. The auditory landscape of Indonesian prisons and detention centres in the mid-1960s perhaps did not differ markedly from similar instances of political repression elsewhere. The sound of imprisonment had a markedly lasting effect on those being detained because the immersive quality that hearing added to the human experience underscored the power imbalance in which survivors found themselves. The sound of trucks driving by and pulling up was associated with impending violence. The daily routine of detainees was marked with a rich soundscape of army trucks, the prison bell, jingling keys and footsteps of prison guards. The sound of the army trucks that transported detainees to and from places of detention was a key part of the auditory landscape, as Niko’s opening testimony illustrates.
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