Conclusion
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A RETURN TO FORM
To put Reformasi in the past, to consider it finished, runs the risk of discount-
ing the role of popular politics in ensuring Indonesian democracy today. And
yet a common critique toward Generation 98 advances the idea that activists
are now passé. Critics, especially those who observed activists from the out-
side but who nonetheless felt a right to speak as former students or historical
witnesses, have asked why students didn’t do more, and why they chose to
fade back into ordinary life, as if the revolution was over. This charge high-
lights political intervention as event rather than afterlife and assumes that the
postpolitical reintegration into normal life was easy and seamless; yet there
are signs, here in this book, that tell us the opposite. “Melawan Lupa” (Resist-
ing Forgetting) remains a powerful activist slogan today. This is a case where
the wisdom of hindsight about Reformasi’s failures and student activist disap-
pointments are no more than an elegant (and sophist?) proof of an optic that
Foucault calls a history of the present, where the marks of the past on the pres-
ent reveal how and of what political matter the present is composed (1977: 31).
“The past is a position,” Trouillot writes, begetting forgetting and remem-
bering as distinct political positions. John Roosa’s and Katherine McGregor’s
work on the horrors of 1965– 1966 show how forgetting can become both a
state and civil society project, shared through a relation to hegemony and
domination. It is easy to see why there are older generations who prefer to for-
get, since the political past is encased in trauma (Cribb, cited in Stoler 2002).
Remembering one’s discordant past or the nation’s submerged past is disrup-
tive work, for remembering mars the surface of normality, draws the attention
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