The Devil is in the Details: representations of conflict in Northern Maluku, eastern Indonesia. GARP12

Duncan, Christopher R.. 2007. The Devil is in the Details: representations of conflict in Northern Maluku, eastern Indonesia. GARP12. Working Paper. Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers., London, UK. [Report]

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Discussions of various outbreaks of communal violence in Indonesia at the turn of the century have tended to focus on what caused these conflicts. Academics have debated the merits of culturalist interpretations versus instrumentalist ones. In focusing primarily on the causes of the conflict, these accounts fail, or in some cases outright refuse, to look at the actual violence that took place. They overlook the details of particular events and how these events have been lived and understood by both perpetrators and victims. As a result, little attention has been paid to the nature of the violence and the way it was experienced on the ground. The suffering has been neatly removed and events sanitized for an academic audience. In this working paper, I argue that in examinations of violent conflict, the details of that violence - the horrific nature of the killings, the trauma experienced by those involved - are often vital to understanding how people experienced and actualized the violence. The removal of these details can complicate attempts at explanation. I examine these questions through an exploration of how people from North Maluku in eastern Indonesia discussed their experiences during a period of communal violence from 1999-2000.

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Report (Working Paper)

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Christopher R. Duncan is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and in the School of Global Studies at Arizona State University. His research focuses on communal violence in Indonesia, and on the resettlement and conversion to Christianity of the Forest Tobelo of Halmahera, Indonesia. He is currently working on a study of the 1999-2000 conflict in North Maluku Province in eastern Indonesia.


Indonesia; conflict; violence; trauma; anthropology

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Anthropology > GARP - Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers



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Date Deposited:

16 May 2008 15:27

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2014 13:19


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