His particular concern is the historical and social perspectives that shape and condition works of literature, and how they are manifested within the texts. Taufiq believes that ‘literature is born of a social context, and thus will always be bound to society and the social forces that constitute its context.’ Accordingly, a good literary work must speak or reflect contradictions and changes in society, and the issues faced by the public in that society. However, to speak directly and with honesty about social issues becomes fraught, even deadly, in certain contexts. Nowhere is this clearer in the Indonesian context than literary works that attempted to address the social, cultural and historical trauma of the 1965-66 Indonesian mass killings, written while the New Order regime was still in power. Numerous authors and artists were sidelined, abducted, brutally tortured or assassinated for speaking about personal trauma, for being associated with the left, or even for being accused of being leftist—Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Anwar Uzhara and Widji Thukul are only some of the more prominent examples. They were not only physically discarded but also culturally annihilated.
However, there are exceptional cases, for example that of Ahmad Tohari. An anomaly, Ahmad Tohari could get away with recounting his historical trauma in works of fiction, specifically his novels from the 1980s, written and published when the New Order regime was at the height of its power and exerted maximum social and political control. In connection with this, Taufiq’s research project will analyse the social and historical context that allowed fictions to slip through the net of censorship and provide a kind of counter-history, challenging the official version of events. He will investigate the narrative strategies fiction writers employed that led to their works being overlooked (and sometimes even endorsed) by the regime. Researching how writers managed to slip through this net is a valuable opportunity to explore the dynamics of and blind-spots within a system of political control, including the strict censorship of the media, the limits imposed on freedom of speech and association, the imprisonment of political opponents and the rejection of the very concept of ‘human rights’ as being alien to Indonesian values.
Wound around the Wound: Narrative, Trauma, and Indonesia 1965. The 3rd Literary Studies Conference: The 1965 Coup in Indonesia: Questions of Representation 50 years later, Yogyakarta, 21-22 October 2015.
A Nation in Process: Crossing Social and Political Boundaries in Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Cerita dari Blora. Exploring the Literary World 3: Transgression and Translation in Literature, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, 23-24 April 2015.
Engineered Narrative: Writing/Righting History in Sang Mokteng Bubat. The 2nd Literary Studies Conference di Universitas Sanata Dharma, Yogyakarta, October 16-17, 2014.
(with Rasus Budhyono) When the Talking Turkeys Sing De Rong Song and Rant Dis Poetry to The British Neighbours: Traversal in Benjamin Zephaniah’s Poems. Crossing Conference: Travels, Transformations, and Transgressions in and out of Codes and Canons, The Department of English, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung, 24-26 May 2012.
(with Erlina) Nil Equivalent dan Zero Equivalent pada Penerjemahan Foklor Sunda ke dalam Bahasa Inggris: Kajian Penerjemahan, Jatinangor: Proceeding Seminar Internasional Kebudayaan Sunda, Fakultas Sastra Universitas Padjadjaran, 2011.
The Most Popular Sundanese Folklore: Myth, Legend and Tales, Jatinangor: Sastra Unpad Press, 2010.