Is there Indonesian History Before 1945?

September 30, 2021
Other Event in Australia

The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre of the University of Sydney will conduct a webinar titled “Is there Indonesian History Before 1945?” on September 30, 2021, at 5:00 pm (Australia Eastern Standard Time). 

Indonesian historiography is extremely compartmentalized. For most Indonesians their history starts in August 1945, unconnected with the colonial past. This prevents for instance an analysis of the transition of colonial modernity to its postcolonial manifestations, and may explain the near absence of postcolonial debates in Indonesia.

Dutch colonial history shows a reversed pattern: it stops in 1950 and shows no interest in postcolonial Indonesia. Indonesian and Dutch historical interests hardly overlap. Even the period 1945-1950 reveals a wide gap. For the Dutch it was a period of ‘decolonization’ with, currently, an emphasis on Dutch military violence; for Indonesia it was the war of independence with an emphasis on nation-building and state formation. What prevents historians to break through these temporal and conceptual barriers? Would it be possible to identify and explore shared concerns?

Emeritus Professor Henk Schulte Nordholt from KITLV and Professor Bambang Purwanto from Universitas Gadjah Mada Yogyakarta, Indonesia, will  explore the diverse narratives around Indonesia’s pre-1945 history. The conversation will be moderated by Assistant Professor Jessica Soedirgo from the University of Amsterdam.

To register for the webinar, click here.