Unlike Algeria where colonization is embedded in the words one speaks...in Indonesia, to the untrained eye the Dutch presence has far receded into the background. I'm told that older people may speak Dutch, but the Dutch cognates in the Indonesian language are few...most likely because Indonesia created its own national language after its independence. So, I have had to look for it.
I found it in the Dutch desserts (delicious photo to left) and the lack of chairs. We very often find ourselves sitting on the ground without back support. Chairs, they tell me, come from the Dutch. I miss chairs.
So much has happened since the Dutch East Indies Company, Indonesia worked to create a national identity, which sadly for a time and with CIA assistance included murdering suspected communists for supposedly staging a coup against a corrupt regime, a genocide of roughly a million and now a host of modern problems that range from radical islam, domestic abuse, the struggles of modernity both over access (diesel mopeds cause unbreathable pollution) and general lack of access modernity-- health care, etc.
For example, a friend of one of our contacts here broke his spine last week..he was working in a school, I believe, repairing the building...While no medical system has been able to, as far as I know, repair a severed spine in a human (apparently we have made progress with rats), losing one's legs here is quite painful. Not such the experience, but the fact that 4 hospitals turned him away saying they couldn't handle his problem. So he spent hours riding around in an ambulance most likely in excruiciating pain.
As a result, I would say the language of conflict in Indonesia is clearly no longer Dutch. While it may have been centuries ago..the language of conflict here is close to ours, with an added dose of silence.
Many people with whom we spoke are still quite afraid to speak freely. Afraid of being called communists and having the government come after them and their families again. So, we are told, many people will convert to Islam or a more observant form of Islam simply to avoid being called communists. The language of conflict, is still not to express it. Perpetrators and Victims of the 1965 genocide live side by side. Not too much is said except in whispers amongst the community-- who killed who..buzzes around under hushed voices.
Dr. Dwyer tells us that those who have done scholarship on the genocide are quite few. She knows them all.. .Much of the work that IS done is not translated back into Indonesia. Many dissertations on the region are written, few come back to the people. Which is why she will have us present our findings to the University Community of Sanata Dharma here in Yogyakarta.
We will have to articulate the conflicts we have found in our own language...not even theirs..additionally unfair. Their language of conflict, still in many ways is ours..."Conflict" is "Konflik" in Indonesian, imports of modernity's problems (but in fairness also many of its solutions-- cell phones), and silence....
I am thinking now that "silence" must be listened to...when we search for the language of conflict...