Indonesia Freedom Movement – 1


This project explores two projects to preserve the footprint of the colonizing Dutch in post-colonial Jakarta, Indonesia, questioning their implications for contemporary Indonesia.  The first, to restore and reinvigorate the historic (Dutch) center of Jakarta, preserves the urban morphology of the colonial period, which at first seems to contradict the post-colonial political situation.  The second, the restoration of a Dutch colonial official’s former residence into a community center, financed by Dutch businesses active in Indonesia, appears to be a gift to the local community; I interrogate whether this Dutch building is being preserved for Indonesia, or for the Netherlands.  I suggest that the complicated motives of these projects are informed by the hybrid contemporary identities that are the legacy of a colonial state, and thus these projects to preserve colonial history retain a resonance in contemporary Indonesian society.

    Heritage preservation generally involves the choice of a historic moment that is especially meaningful to the present identity of the group supporting preservation.  In this project, I look at two heritage preservation projects that choose a moment seemingly at odds to the identity of the groups involved.  In these two projects, Dutch heritage is being preserved in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia.  How is this contradiction reconciled in post-colonial Indonesia?  I suggest that here, the “post” of post-colonial does not represent a complete rupture with the colonial past, but instead, a state of hybrid identity, combining elements of the colonial past and the post-colonial present.