SBS Book Publication

Sites, Bodies and Stories: Imagining Indonesian History

Sites, Bodies and Stories Book CoverSites, Bodies and Stories examines the intimate links between history and heritage as they have developed in postcolonial Indonesia. Sites discussed in the book include Borobudur in Central Java, a village in Flores built around megalithic formations, and ancestral houses in Alor. Bodies refers to legacies of physical anthropology, exhibition practices and Hollywood movies. The Stories are accounts of the Mambesak movement in Papua, the inclusion of wayang puppetry in UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and subaltern history as written by the people of Blambangan in their search for national heroes. Throughout the book, citizenship entitlement figures as a leitmotif in heritage initiatives.

Contemporary heritage formation in Indonesia is intrinsically linked to a canon of Indonesian art and culture developed during Dutch colonial rule, institutionalized within Indonesia’s heritage infrastructure and in the Netherlands, and echoed in museums and exhibitions throughout the world. The authors in this volume acknowledge colonial legacies but argue against a colonial determinism, considering instead how contemporary heritage initiatives can lead to new interpretations of the past.


Sites, Bodies and Stories will be published in 2015 by NUS Press, National University of Singapore.
ISBN 978-9971-69-857-7 (Paper)

Cover image: ‘Java, War of Ghosts’ by Jompet Kuswidananto, 2009. Collection of Leo Shih, installation at Tropenmuseum exhibition ‘Grand Parade’ (2014-2015). Photograph: Irene de Groot, Tropenmuseum Amsterdam.

Susan Legêne is professor of Political History and Head of the Department of Art and culture, History, Antiquity in the Faculty of Humanities at the VU University in Amsterdam.

Bambang Purwanto is Professor of History at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

Henk Schulte Nordholt is Head of Research at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden, and professor of Indonesian History at Leiden University.