Credit: Drafthouse Films

Unsettling Redemption: The Ethics of Intrasubjectivity in The Act of Killing

Sara Kendall


The documentary The Act of Killing adopts a novel experimental approach to mass atrocity. Perpetrators of Cold War era anti-communist purges in Indonesia are invited to narrate their acts through familiar film genres. The resulting narrative appears to fit within the ideology of transitional justice, with its emphasis on practices of healing, remorse and redemption. Yet the structural dimensions of violence remain unaddressed within this frame. The moral economy of affect and empathy displaces a political analysis of enduring power imbalances and ongoing injustice.


The Act of Killing; Transitional Justice; Humanitarianism; Affect; Indonesia; Documentary

Full Text:


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.