Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia

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Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia

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Title: Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia
Author: Grayman, Jesse Hession
Citation: Grayman, Jesse Hession. 2012. Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: In “Humanitarian Encounters in Post-Conflict Aceh, Indonesia,” I examine the humanitarian involvement in Aceh, Indonesia following two momentous events in Aceh’s history: the earthquake and tsunami on 26 December 2004 and the signing of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that brought a tentative, peaceful settlement to the Free Aceh Movement’s (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka, GAM) separatist insurgency against Indonesia on 15 August 2005. My research focuses on the international humanitarian engagement with Aceh’s peace process but frequently acknowledges the much larger and simultaneous tsunami recovery efforts along Aceh’s coasts that preceded and often overshadowed conflict recovery. Using ethnographic data based on five years working with four different international humanitarian organizations concerned with post-conflict recovery in Aceh, I address two main topics in my dissertation. The first is an insider’s perspective on the anthropology of humanitarianism. From one chapter to the next, I recreate and situate a particular humanitarian world’s relation to local structures of power and suffering that expands upon and complicates some of the prevailing debates in the anthropological literature on humanitarianism. From the unique vantage point within various humanitarian organizations, stories of Aceh’s post-conflict recovery filter through with selective and idiosyncratic ethnographic clarity. The accumulation of these stories reveals, by way of mosaic example, a logic of humanitarian intervention. The second topic I address in my dissertation is the story of Aceh’s peace process within the larger context of Indonesia’s post-New Order transition to democracy. I situate my data within a rapidly growing literature of insightful histories and critiques of Aceh’s conflict and subsequent transformations since the tsunami and the formal end of hostilities between GAM and Indonesian security forces. My focus on the ethnographic details in each chapter is set against some of the broadly taken-for-granted histories that have come to define Aceh’s recent successes and failures in its transition to peace.
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