As an Indonesian and a historian, I have always been captivated by how Indonesia thrived under former President Suharto’s New Order regime for 32 years. Yet at the same time, society also buckled under the illiberal and authoritarian rule of the military.
After the fall of Suharto in 1998, the country began to open up. Many archives became much more accessible and writing about topics like the military and government were no longer taboo nor dangerous. That sparked my curiosity about how societies work, and I later earned my undergraduate degree in history from the University of Indonesia and a PhD in history from Northwestern University.
Today, I spend a lot of time working on my book proposal, which explores the origins of authoritarianism in Indonesia. It’s a story about how the Indonesian state and society – following a four-year revolution after World War II – gradually became preoccupied with order and security. I’m looking specifically at how and why the military became involved in non-military affairs, such as politics, culture, and the economy.
During the winter closure, I’ll be in Indonesia to do some work before the Christmas holiday, like visiting archives and libraries. I’ll also be attending a conference in London to present one of my book chapters.
I’m really enjoying the privilege of being at Stanford. Through the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Asia-Pacific Research Center, The Hoover Institution, and other centers, I’ve been able to talk with experts who have inspired my work. I’m really enjoying working with the faculty here – everyone’s been really welcoming and supportive.