Torture and Police Shootings in South and Southeast Asia

Dr Nick Cheesman1, Associate Professor Bina D’Costa1, Dr Annie Pohlman2, Dr Jacqui Baker3, Dr Rus’an Nasrudin4

1Australian National University, Australia, 2University of Queensland, Australia, 3Murdoch University, Australia, 4Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia

Chair: Nick Cheesman


Why study torture in Asia? And how? Each of the speakers in this panel addresses these questions differently. Their sources are diverse. They range from activist archives in Jakarta to court transcripts in Bangkok, from a famous Bengali novel, to a state-produced data set of police shootings in Indonesia. Their methods and goals also differ: from network analysis to posit a relationship between police shootings and torture, to archival work aimed at identifying patterns of torture under military dictatorship; from interpretive reading of facts about torture rendered as prize-winning fiction, to textual interpretation of facts about torture rendered in the state’s idiom. Where they converge is on the view that in our time torture has been not epiphenomenal but integral to state practice in South and Southeast Asia; and, in agreement that documenting and interpreting torture calls for exactly the kind of diversity in methods, sources and goals that the papers presented adopt.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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