Good, Byron J.; Good, Mary-Jo DelVecchio
This essay is one of more than a dozen in this volume to honor the late Mary Margaret Steedly. The paper’s theme is “haunting.” Steedly’s writings are filled with stories of spirits—in Karoland during the New Order’s core years, as well as in Indonesian horror films in the post-Suharto Reformasi years. There are the keramat of Mount Sibayak and the spirits of the dead. Steedly views spirit figures as part of the everyday world—her interest is not whether they exist, but rather what Indonesians do about them. She takes up analysis in terms of visibility and invisibility, or, more specifically, transparency and apparition. It is in the context of a suppressed national history that the ghosts of the New Order find a presence in popular Indonesian horror films—possibly, an association of revenge with the unexplained and unmourned dead remains present until today in talk about the dangers of revisiting Indonesia’s violent history. It is this association that begins to point back to Steedly’s experiences of ghosts and questions of vengefulness decades earlier in her Karo work. She did not engage theories of haunting explicitly, but her writings suggest important directions for placing her work in conversation with recent writings on hauntology.
Volume & Issue:
Page range: 91-98
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program
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