SBS Book
The Sites, Bodies and Stories research program resulted in various publications, including a SBS book. This book is officially released in 2015. Read more.

Research Portal
The SBS homepage is housed in the History Department's Research Portal.

Sites, Bodies and Stories

The Dynamics of Heritage Formation in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands

Welcome to the homepage of the 'Sites, Bodies and Stories' (SBS) research program. This program investigates cultural heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands since the beginning of the nineteenth century. It analyses the emergence of a colonial canon of Indonesian culture, and its impact on the dynamics of appropriation and belonging, inclusion and exclusion, during the process of (post)colonial state formation. On this website you will find information about the goals and outcomes, participating researchers, publications, conferences and more.


The SBS program is part of the CLUE (VU Amsterdam’s interdisciplinary Research Institute) research cluster “Museums, Heritage and Media.” The program leader is Susan Legêne, professor in political history at VU University Amsterdam. It is a collaboration project between the History department of the VU University, the Gadjah Mada University, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

The SBS program is largely financed by NWO (the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), as part of the NWO ‘Cultural Dynamics’ program. This is a multidisciplinary research program looking into the dynamic role of cultural heritage and the interaction between culture and society in both the past and the present.


The SBS program ran from 09-2008 until 01-2013. Two mid-term international conferences were held in Yogyakarta in 2009 and 2011 to strengthen the international comparative context of the research, with a focus on Indonesia, the Netherlands, India and England. Indonesian postgraduate students were involved in the research. Senior and PhD research resulted in academic publications, including a conference book. Furthermore the program aimed to reach a wider audience, through performances, a seminar about colonial scientific films, a movie project and expert meetings on ethical guidelines with relation to the collections of human remains.