april, 2021

23apr4:10 pm- 6:00 pmLauren Yapp, "From ‘Dutch Leftovers’ to ‘Our Heritage’: Colonial ruins, urban activism, and memory politics in contemporary Indonesia"


Event Details

Dr. Lauren Yapp, University of Colorado Boulder

From ‘Dutch Leftovers’ to ‘Our Heritage’: Colonial ruins, urban activism, and memory politics in contemporary Indonesia

Friday 23rd April 2021, 4.10pm EST



For decades, the field of heritage preservation in Indonesia focused almost exclusively on the country’s ancient archaeological sites and time-honored cultural traditions. Then, starting in the early 2000s, the country’s major cities suddenly witnessed a boom of local curiosity in colonial-era sites and structures, many of which are today being identified, protected, and celebrated as treasured “heritage”. Perhaps even more surprising, this re-appraisal of the material traces of imperial rule as “heritage” has been led not by the usual suspects of government agencies or tourism operators, but rather by a diverse and noisy network of local civil society actors, including Indonesian activists, artists, journalists, academics, community leaders, and students.

Why has this rush to re-invent the tangible “leftovers” of Dutch colonialism as “our heritage” emerged in Indonesian cities in recent years? What do these crumbling buildings and aging neighborhoods mean to the people who now advocate passionately for their preservation? What do they hope to achieve through their engagements with such sites, especially those young Indonesians who are often the most enthusiastic and creative in their activism? What can this growing urban heritage movement reveal about the complex dynamics of democracy and development in contemporary Indonesia? Drawing upon fieldwork in several Indonesian cities, this talk explores these questions and the extent to which Indonesia’s colonial past is being hidden or highlighted through the idiom of “heritage” – resulting in new forms of memory politics that have the potential to unsettle assumptions about what the popular engagement with this history “should” look like in the post-colony.


Presenter Bio:

Lauren Yapp is an Instructor and Program Director at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to this position, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. She earned her PhD in Anthropology from Stanford University and her MPhil in Archaeological Heritage and Museums from Cambridge University. Her work explores cultural heritage preservation, memory politics, civil society movements, and postcolonial urbanism in Southeast Asia.

Registration link:



(Friday) 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm EST


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