Working Paper 127

The Social Life of Reconciliation: religion and the struggle for social justice in post-new order Indonesia

Fadjar I. Thufail

Projektgruppe Rechtspluralismus

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 127

Reconciliation became a catchword in the current human rights struggles across the globe. Countries that left their authoritarian pasts behind turn to reconciliation to find a better way of dealing with the legacy of human rights violations perpetrated by the former regimes. At the same time, human rights activists resort to reconciliation to circumvent the lingering restriction or limited capacity of the justice system in the post-authoritarian countries to carry out thorough investigations into past violence. Among legal practitioners, however, reconciliation has been widely used in the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) process. As popular as a catchword in the transnational human rights movement, reconciliation is always embedded in the local political and ethical struggles for justice. In contrast to a commonly held assumption in the generic theory of globalisation, the transnational spread of the reconciliation discourse is hardly a generic process that results in similar forms. The encounter with political and ethical concerns constitutes a critical disjuncture that shapes plural reconciliation strategies and choices. This paper discusses the examples of two reconciliation forums in Indonesia to illustrate how critical disjuncture leads to a social life of reconciliation that addresses the political and the ethical concerns of the post-New Order Indonesian society. The first example is the Tanjung Priok islah reconciliation forum, and the second one is a reconciliation forum between the survivors of the 1965–1966 massacre and the former religious militia “Banser”. The examples presented in this paper suggest that the social life of reconciliation in Indonesia strongly depends on religious conceptions of norms and social belonging.

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