Aceh’s contested history: 50 years of reluctant engagement

Crawford School of Public Policy | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 25 May 2022


Coombs Seminar Room E, Coombs Building 9, Fellows Road, ANU


Anthony Reid (Emeritus Professor, ANU School of Culture, History and Language)


Kate McLinton
6125 3380

Join in-person: Seminar Room E, HC Coombs Building.

Join online:; Webinar ID: 850 4235 3685; Passcode: 029070

Aceh has been an anomalous problem for Java-centric understandings of Indonesia, even though paradoxically central to nationalist mythology. Adopting its history as a PhD topic was perhaps a risky route to becoming the Indonesianist I aspired to be as a 1960s student. But it served me well as the Southeast Asianist I eventually became. Though again anomalous in the semi-autobiographical survey of Southeast Asian Studies I am undertaking, it deserved a chapter because it pointed the way to many themes that have dominated my work – slavery, nationalism, gender, the Turkish connection, gunpowder states, 17th century crisis, Islamisation, cosmopolitan versus vernacular, tectonic discontinuities, and the whole ‘Age of Commerce’ idea. Moving to Singapore (2002-9) gave me an opportunity and sense of obligation to seek to ameliorate the traumas of that period. This will be one perspective on the post-colonial contest for sovereignty in one of Asia’s awkward corners.

Photo: Former Governor of Aceh Irwandi Yusuf and Anthony Reid, 2007 (source: Anthony Reid)

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