Katharine E. McGregor
History in Uniform
Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia's Past
NUS Press 2007
Nugroho Notosusanto (1930-1985) never pursued a military career; but all the same he did his bit for the Indonesian armed forces. He was co-opted into the Armed Forces History Centre as a young academic, and dedicated the greater part of his life to writing official histories of post-colonial Indonesia in the format prescribed by the Centre of which he was an integral part ever since its inception.
Katharine E. McGregor‘s book, History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past (NUS Press, 2007), examines the historiographic projects undertaken by the Indonesian military as they fought to check threats–perceived or otherwise–to their influence from a diverse array of opponents: political society, civil society, religious groups, communist groups, the global political situation. They produced official histories and textbooks- a good many of which were authored by Nugroho- built monuments, memorials, and museums, all to ensure that their version of an Indonesian national past won currency among the people over their rivals’ versions. For a little over three decades, they exercised a near monopoly over history writing in Indonesia. Their understanding of the Indonesian past is often contested. It is certainly not the only version, especially given the size and diversity of this sprawling archipelago. But it is a cohesive body of work that offers valuable insights into the minds of a section of Indonesians as they were at a particular point in time.