Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics


Taylor & Francis


School of Arts and Humanities


Edith Cowan University


Adji, N. A., & Polain, M. (2021). 'We cannot heal what we will not face': Dismantling the cultural trauma and the May '98 riots in Rani P collaborations' Chinese whispers. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. Advance online publication.


In May 1998, ethnic riots and widespread sexual violence occurred in several major Indonesian cities. Chinese-Indonesians were targeted and, since then, there has been an interest in feminist visual art created by Chinese-Indonesian diaspora in Australia. This article explores Chinese Whispers, a digital graphic novel by Rani Pramesti, a Chinese-Javanese-Indonesian actor and Melbourne-based performance maker, and her team of Indonesian-Australian collaborators. Applying solemn imagery, it narrates a young woman’s attempts at understanding cultural trauma that has marked both personal and public identities of Chinese-Indonesians. Imbued with black-and-white illustrations and interview transcripts, the digital graphic novel tries to answer questions regarding hatred and violence towards Chinese-Indonesians against the backdrop of political turmoil. This article assists in understanding the significance of Indonesian digital graphic narratives as a channel through which the targeted community can discuss their shared trauma and reflexive awareness by visualising cultural conflict.



Available for download on Monday, August 01, 2022