Sites, Bodies and Stories: The Dynamics of Heritage Formation in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands


The research programme 'Sites, Bodies and Stories' 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.
Three case studies, focussing on different heritage domains, will be the prisms through which the political dimensions and colonial threads of heritage formation across the colonial divide will be investigated. The case studies concern: (1) archaeological-historical sites; (2) human remains and physical anthropological data; and (3) contemporary performing traditions and performance practices.
Each of these heritage domains implicitly refers to an 'authentic' indigenous past. Each domain has been incorporated in a Western scientific body of colonial knowledge, and has been regulated and preserved through the intervention of cultural institutions in Indonesia and the Netherlands. In these three domains cases have been selected which are connected with sensitive and often contested political and religious interests. They touch upon national, religious or ethnic identity issues, while they are framed in discussions concerning national and world heritage, postcolonial relationships between former colonizer and colony, and the moral underpinnings of keeping and investigating human remains.
The use of the three cases allows the programme to follow three different approaches to the dynamics of heritage formation: focusing on state interventions (Sites), on international professional agendas (Bodies) and on individual local cultural productions (Stories). The aim is, by following these three approaches to arrive at an analysis of the operation of processes of heritage formation in colonial, postcolonial and international arenas, drawing its power and legitimacy from, respectively, the state, international norms, and local tradition. In a broader sense the programme opens the possibility of a critical evaluation of the political dimensions of the concept of heritage and the practice of heritage studies.
Senior and PhD research will result in academic publications; a mid-term international seminar in Jakarta will strengthen the international comparative context of the research, with a focus on Indonesia, the Netherlands, India and England. Indonesian postgraduate students will be involved in research, whereas the programme aims to reach a wider audience as well, through an exhibition, performances, documentary films and public debates on ethical guidelines.


Boek of monografie

  • S. Legêne, B. Purwanto, H. Schulte Nordholt(2015): Sites, Bodies and Stories pp. 240 , Singapore


Hoofdstuk in boek

  • R. Raben, M. Bloembergen, H. Schulte Nordholt(2009): Het Koloniale Beschavingsoffensief. pp. 105 - 120 , Leiden
  • H. Hagerdal, B. Purwanto(2009): Responding to the West. Essays on Colonial Domination and Asian Agency pp. 151 - 166 , Amsterdam
  • M. Eickhoff, M. Bloembergen, E. Schalllmayer(2010): Archäologie und Politik
  • J. Th. Lindblad, B. Purwanto, B. Purwanto(2010): Merajut Sejarah Ekonomi Indonesia pp. 135 - 162 , Yogyakarta
  • F. Sysling, A. Kieskamp(2010): Sense and Sensitivity pp. 52 - 61 , Amsterdam
  • L. Jensen, J Leerssen, S. Legêne, M.T.C. Mathijsen-Verkooijen(2010): Free Access to the Past pp. 291 - 315 , Leiden and Boston
  • M. Halbertsma, S. Boonstra, P. van Ulzen, A. van Stipriaan(2011): The Heritage Theatre pp. 27 - 48 , Cambridge
  • K. von Kurzynski, M. Eickhoff, M Bloembergen, E. Schallmayer(2011): Archäologie und Politik pp. 225 - 232 , Wiesbaden
  • M. Bloembergen, P. Boomgaard, M. Eickhoff(2013): Empire and Science in the Making. pp. 185 - 205 , New York
  • P. Boomgaard, M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2013): Empire and Science in the Making. pp. 185 - 205 , Basingstoke, Hampshire UK
  • S. Boonstra, S. Legêne, B. Purwanto, H. Schulte Nordholt(2015): Sites, Bodies and Stories pp. 159 - 179 , Singapore
  • S. Legêne, S. Legêne, H. Schulte Nordholt, B. Purwanto, H. Schulte Nordholt(2015): Sites, Bodies and Stories pp. 1 - 31 , Singapore
  • M. Falser, M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2015): Cultural Heritage as a Civilizing Mission. pp. 83 - 119 , New York
  • S. Legêne, M. Bloembergen, B. Purwanto, M. Eickhoff, H. Schulte Nordholt(2015): Sites, Bodies and Stories. pp. 33 - 66 , Singapore
  • S. Legêne, F. Sysling, B. Purwanto, H. Schulte Nordholt(2015): Sites, Bodies and Stories pp. 113 - 131 , Singapore

Wetenschappelijk artikel

  • T. Sudarmadi(2001): Love me, Love me not Humaniora Jurnal Fakultas Ilmu Budaya Universitas Gadjah Mada pp. 113 - 124
  • H. Schulte Nordholt(2008): Identity politics, citizenship, and the soft state in Indonesia. Journal of Indonesian Social Sciences and Humanities pp. 1 - 21
  • S.N. Boonstra(2009): Conceptualising intangible heritage in the Tropenmuseum. International Journal of Intangible Heritage ISSN: 1974-4019.
  • S. Boonstra(2009): Conceptualising Intangible Heritage in the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam International Journal of Intangible Heritage pp. 28 - 39
  • S. Legêne(2011): Bringing History Home BMGN The Low Countries Historical Review pp. 54 - 70
  • H. Schulte Nordholt(2011): Indonesia in the 1950s. BKI/Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania pp. 386 - 404 ISSN: 0006-2294.
  • M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2011): Conserving the past, mobilizing the Indonesian future BKI/Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania pp. 405 - 436 ISSN: 0006-2294.
  • H. Schulte Nordholt(2011): Modernity and cultural citizenship in the Netherlands Indies Journal of Southeast Asian Studies pp. 435 - 457
  • F. Sysling(2011): R. Roque, Headhunting and colonialism BKI/Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania pp. 121 - 123 ISSN: 0006-2294.
  • F.H. Sysling(2012): Een schandaal in drie bedrijven. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis pp. 35 - 47 ISSN: 0040-7518.
  • M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2013): A Wind of Change on Java's Ruined Temples BMGN-Low Countries Historical Review pp. 81 - 104 ISSN: 0615-0505.
  • M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2013): Exchange and the Protection of Java?s Antiquities The Journal of Asian Studies pp. 1 - 24
  • F. Sysling(2013): Geographies of Difference BMGN-Low Countries Historical review pp. 105 - 126 ISSN: 0615-0505.
  • M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2014): Een klein land dat de wereld bestormt. BMGN - The Low Countries Historical Review pp. 156 - 169

Professionele publicatie

  • S Legêne(2009): Muntslag/vuistslag
  • J. van Dijk, S. Legêne (eds.)(2011): The Netherlands east indies at the Tropenmuseum pp. 1 - 200
  • M. Eickhoff(2011): Denys Lombard; Gardens in Java pp. 365 - 366
  • F. Sysling(2011): Ogen van ver pp. 180 - 185
  • S.N. Boonstra(2012): Critical Heritage Studies. IIAS Summer School Revisited pp. 44 - 46
  • M. Bloembergen, M. Eickhoff(2012): Travelling far on "rather short legs". pp. 30 - 31
  • B. Purwanto(2012): Merajut kebinekaan dan kearifan budaya
  • S.N. Boonstra(2012): Inside the Puppet Box. ISSN: 0006-2294.

Publicatie bedoeld voor een breed publiek


  • This link leads to the public site of Sites, Bodies and Stories, hosted by surfgroepen.





Prof. dr. S. Legêne

Verbonden aan

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen, Letteren


Dr. M. Bloembergen, Dr. S.N. Boonstra MA, Dr. M. Eickhoff, Prof. dr. S. Legêne, Dr. F. Sysling


01/09/2008 tot 26/09/2013