3278 HN points
12 Aug 22
When I was a child, we would travel to Indonesia, where my father conducted his research. It was the time of Suharto. My dad’s research mostly took place in Bali, where the regime was careful to limit its presence; they didn’t want to spook the tourists, you understand. But still, the signs were there, if you knew how to look. Every once in a while, a black army truck, filled with soldiers; your odd military checkpoint; and, always, Indonesian friends and peers of my father who were critical of the regime, and afraid. Viscerally afraid, the kind of fear that shakes you when you observe it as a child. It was difficult for Western academics, too, though they obviously faced far less threat. No one wanted to be a collaborator, and among the many I met, none had anything but disgust for the Suharto regime. But to complain publicly risked being barred from the country, which did no good for anyone. I believe the tension haunted my father.