Pitt faculty member Andrew Weintraub’s article entitled “The Act of Singing: Women, Music, and the Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in Indonesia” was awarded the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) Helen Roberts Prize for the most significant article in ethnomusicology by a member of the Society for Ethnomusicology after the first ten years of their scholarly career (2020-21). The article also received the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) Prize (Honorable Mention) for the most outstanding article in a scholarly journal or edited volume (2020-21).
In this article, Weintraub shows how the Dialita women’s choir uses music to contest the ongoing denial of state-sponsored violence that followed the Indonesian tragedy of 1965–66, particularly as it impacted women. More specifically, Dialita uses their experiences and positionalities as women to perform an alternative collective memory for younger generations of Indonesians. Composed in prison, Dialita’s musical repertoire memorialises the affects and effects of imprisonment, exile, trauma, and survival. Due to government censure and public condemnation, the songs had been silenced by the Indonesian state and hidden underground from the public since the Indonesian tragedy. In the early 2000s, the women of Dialita formed a musical group and courageously began performing in public, collaborating with young musicians and recording the songs. I contend that women’s collective singing is an act of critical remembrance, opening a new front in struggles for truth and reconciliation, especially when juridical appeals and strategies have been rebuffed. Read the article here.
The prize committee for the ICTM Prize wrote: “The research that went into this article is exemplary, and the combination of ethnography, history, and aural analysis gives it exceptional breadth. Although the author is neither a woman nor an Indonesian, he is a strong advocate for these singers and their families, and he takes an unequivocal stance on the side of reconciliation and recognition of the injustices they suffered. Given that the period of history when their imprisonment took place is still a sensitive topic in Indonesia, this is probably a story that could only be told by an outsider.”