Silence, violence and gendered resistance

Pauline Stoltz

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearchpeer-review


This paper takes its starting point in two interrelated conflicts: the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during WWII (1942–1945) and the Indonesian war of independence from Dutch colonial rule (1945–1949). Successive Dutch and Indonesian governments have denied responsibility for human rights abuses and the historical injustices that took place in relation to these conflicts. Organized resistance to denials has been constrained. The research fields of transitional justice and memory politics are useful if we want to solve the political puzzle of why the silences and denials that relate to the memories of violent conflicts in Indonesia continue, despite an increased acceptance of global norms on transitional justice.
The links between notions of silence, voice and agency are more complex than they may appear from a ‘simple’ equation between silence as bad and voice as good. In this paper, I argue that combining an intersectional analysis of inequalities with queer approaches to diaspora can be useful in the study of how these notions relate to narratives of transnational memories of violence. I illustrate the argument with examples from the Dutch novel Indische Duinen [My Father’s War] by Adriaan van Dis (1994/2004).
The results show how the use of simplistic understandings of the different characters as either victims or perpetrators influences the formation of their respective diasporic identities. Moreover, intersectional inequalities hinder the agency of first and subsequent generations of postcolonial migrants and influence their respective opportunities to resist denials of responsibility. I end by arguing for the importance of acknowledging the complexities of the notion of denial in order to avoid the universalizing of emotions and feelings relating to transnational memories of violent conflicts at either individual or collective levels. The paper is part of a book project on ‘Gender, resistance and transnational memories of violent conflicts’ (Stoltz, 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventInaugural symposium of the MSA Nordic - University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 29 Oct 202030 Oct 2020


ConferenceInaugural symposium of the MSA Nordic
LocationUniversity of Copenhagen
Internet address


  • Memory
  • Silence
  • Violence
  • Gender
  • Resistance


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