Dr Stephen Miller – 2022

Wiji Thukul, Indonesia’s Disappeared Larrikin Poet-activist.

Wiji Thukul, Indonesia’s disappeared dissident peoples’ poet, continues to inspire progressive forces for social change, decades after spearheading a democratic movement that helped topple Suharto’s long-standing New Order dictatorship in 1998. This paper first translates for an international audience his life trajectory, as sign-posted by a creative praxis that gave voice to working class people like himself whilst also challenging the socioeconomic and political conditions that oppressed and exploited them. It then asserts that remembering Thukul has helped energise and galvanise a re-emerging radical left’s efforts to advance Indonesia’s conflicted and fragile democratising project. We examine how Thukul memories inspire contemporary cultural activism and public discourse on unresolved human rights abuses, notably through the ‘refusing to forget’ campaign, integral to resisting the creep back of New Order-style authoritarianism. The paper also charts how the evoked spirit of Thukul continues to evolve with the changing political economy and social dynamics of post-Reformasi Indonesia.

Dr Stephen Miller (co-authored with Dr Richard Curtis)
Lecturer in Academic Foundations, Asia Pacific College of Business & Law
Charles Darwin University


Dr. Stephen Miller has lectured in Indonesian Studies and Academic Literacy at the University of New England, the University of Tasmania, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and Gadjah Mada University. His research interests include the role of communism and anti-communism in Indonesian politics and history, and Indonesian radicalisms. He is currently a lecturer in the College of Indigenous Futures, Arts, and Education at Charles Darwin University.