Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This year is closed with a thought that still a lot to be done to support heritage movements in Indonesia. The Indonesia Heritage Trust has a very dedicated and energetic Executive Director and a group of very generous Board of Directors, but the Trust still struggles to have its own office, find an endowment fund and creating longer term programs which give more impacts to the country. Efforts to create the endowment fund should be really thought seriously because it is difficult to survive merely from donations. How certain a possibility to sustain the organization in a long run?

The same situation applies for other heritage organizations. Aren't we all creating projects to generate income? Idealism is good but very difficult to implement it without monetary means. For six year (1998-2004) I was the Executive Director of Sumatra Heritage Trust and I knew perfectly all headaches about operational costs. My colleagues and I had to come up with ideas what to do next. We had hardly a pause to be relax about this issue. I myself worked as a full time volunteer but the staff had to be -at least modestly- paid. We needed telephone and Internet to be paid. We needed electricity to turn on computers. We needed to pay printing company and bought stamps for our newsletters.

We developed souvenir designs to produce and to sell. We asked a right to reproduce old pictures and this was the best seller ever. People loved to see their city in the past and probably dreamed to get it back, at least in their living room. When we lacked of cash, we brought several reproductions to a businessman, approached him and we went back to our office with several million rupiahs. Selling souvenirs were not very difficult, getting a trust from someone who had money was difficult. It took a lot of time and effort to build network and trust. We sold our reputation, not merely souvenirs. There were times when things didn't work as we expected, either. Once I ended up sold my gold jewellery to pay the staff.

I tried to find out, too, how to create an endowment fund. I knew that an ex-minister in Jakarta set up a non-profit organization funded by an endowment fund from a foreign agency. They simply used the interest of the deposited money. I wish I could get such an opportunity. Unluckily it was almost zero chance to get an endowment fund without international reputation and political influence. There were a lot and a lot funding schemes out there, mostly for projects and you can save a bit if any for an endowment fund. How many projects did we have to create to be able to save a decent amount which produces sufficient interest for operational costs?

Unfortunately after so many years, the situation in general didn't shift much. It stays the same until 2008. On one side this struggle makes most heritage activists in Indonesia tough. This situation is a kind of test for commitment and dedication. On the other side it slow down achievements that possibly could be achieved or even dismiss the chances at all. But again, as we always said, keep being optimist and isn't it that makes us all until now still doing what we are doing?

For my heritage fellows, Happy New Year 2009 and keep our fingers crossed for a better heritage movement all over the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am Sorry to Hear This!

(Sad news from my LEAD network. I am deeply concerned when this thing happened. Absolutely sad. )

From: Simon Lyster, LEAD International, Chief Executive

Dear all,
You may have heard the news that LEAD Fellow Jestina Mukoko from Zimbabwe (Cohort 10) was reportedly taken from her home by armed police on 3 December and has not been seen since. Clearly this is of grave concern, and there has been an international outcry as a result. Jestina is Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and a Board member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum. You find a letter I have written to Robert Mugabe, and also a background fact sheet prepared by Amnesty International. I have focused my letter on the fact that Jestina is a LEAD Fellow, but you may like to refer to other matters raised by Amnesty as well.

(Up-date per 15 January 2009) It has been 40 days since LEAD Fellow Jestina Mukoko has been taken from her home in the town of Norton, Zimbabwe. LEAD is engaging with the political leaders in the region as well as organisations such as Amnesty International to put pressure on Zimbabwean authorities to free Jestina.

We all need to continue to persevere in our efforts for a safe release of our Fellow Jestina Mukoko, so please keep sending letters reflecting deep international concern for Jestina and other human rights activists in Zimbabwe and urgent calls for their safe release. We will keep you informed of the situation.

Sincerely, Simon Lyster
Chief ExecutiveLEAD International

(Up-date per 9 March 2009) Finally Jestyna Mukoko was released last week on bail after three months of captivation.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I saw the film “Pearl Harbor” last night after zapping the channels for a while. I was reminded about the Japanese actions during the Second World War, not only by bombing the Pearl Harbor but what they have done in Asia including in Indonesia. And the Dutch suffered a lot from the Japanese occupation in Indonesia because many of them went to camps. The Japanese camps in Indonesia were in a devastated situation with barely supply of basic needs. It was a dark period for the Dutch.
Somehow I was curious about how the Dutch nowadays feel towards the Japan. So last Saturday when I went to the library and I saw a book titled ‘Op Oorlogspad in Japan’ (On the War Path in Japan) by Adriaan van Dis, I took the book right away. The first book for me about Dutch-Japan relationships. I am sure many more books on the subject but I have to start somewhere. No wonder I was caught by the ‘Pearl Harbor’ film last night; it was a kind of a warming up to enter the subject. It was a perfect serendipity between the book and the film.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Paradigm Shift about Shared Heritage Cooperation

My preposition about :
Bilateral Shared Heritage Cooperation
Indonesia-The Netherlands

Heritage movement by community in Indonesia is relatively new. It started about the mid of 80’s in big cities in Java. Only at the end of the 90’s it is disseminated to other islands, mainly Sumatra and Sulawesi. The understanding about heritage itself began in a very limited definition mainly about built heritage which heavily influenced by the Dutch architectures in urban areas.

The heritage movement made a progress in 2004 when all non-government organizations established an umbrella organization, Indonesia Heritage Trust. It was continued with the launching of Indonesian Charter for Heritage Conservation which defined heritage and its broad understanding beyond built heritage. This charter became a foundation of heritage programs ever since.

As nature of a movement, there are a lot of initiatives have been launched and some executed into implementations over the years by different organizations. The main issue is how to provide a stable foundation for the heritage movement in Indonesia to enable itself with planned & longer term programs. A well planned and long term program will deliver a better result in term of outreach and sustainability.

Characteristic of most heritage organizations in Indonesia are :

As a personal initiative
Human resource : depend on individual supports as volunteers
Run as a part-time job and voluntary not for profit management
Mobilize and use of local resource
Affiliate with education institutions or professional associations
Lack of capacity to benefit from technology availability (advanced website, etc)
Mostly focus on built heritage
The nature of activities are short term and incidental
Multi-sector approaches : advocacy, awareness, documentation, action

And the challenges are :

Human resources (Heritage management as a profession)
Financial foundation (availability of Endowment Fund)
System support
Consistency of policies implementation
Improvement of regulations

Related to the bilateral cooperation with the Netherlands, the focus should be about shared heritage in both countries. Both countries mean that initiatives are not only executed in Indonesia as our common understanding so far, but also in the Netherlands as Indonesia has brought a lot of influence to the Netherlands as well in the past.

The imbalance understanding about shared heritage –as noticed merely as an initiative from the Dutch side- mainly triggered by lack of understanding that the word ‘shared’ consist of both sides. Indonesia should learn also about its heritage in the Netherlands but this facet so far is hardly covered. If this lack of understanding is not encountered then the result is there would be no sense of needs from the Indonesian side to preserve and conserve the shared heritage.

It takes a shift of paradigm about what shared heritage is to ensure that the bilateral cooperation reach more substantial aspects rather than accommodating incidental programs. The heritage infrastructure in the Netherlands is relatively more stable with institutional & financial supports from the government; on the other hand heritage infrastructure in Indonesia is still in premature stage. If we would like to conserve our shared heritage, it is considerable to have stable heritage infrastructure in both countries. That is why empowering heritage organizations in Indonesia should be one of the goal through the cooperation. In the long run, this empowerment effort would support intention to have a better understanding and practice about shared heritage. In short, two goals in this cooperation are two sides of a coin.

Two main goals :

Empowering infrastructure of heritage movement in Indonesia through capacity building in management and finance;
Paradigm shift about what shared heritage is and how to deal with it in both countries by:
Building understanding of shared heritage
Inventory of shared heritage both in Indonesia and the Netherlands

Tangible heritage
1. Architecture
2. Textile (for example : Batik Belanda)
3. Industrial heritage
4. Culinary

Intangible heritage
1. Linguistic (for example : Dutch influence in development of Bahasa Indonesia or vice versa)
2. Law (for example : influence on cultural heritage protection law)
3. Urban planning (for example : retracing Dutch footprints in Indonesian cities)



Training & internship about professional management of heritage organization. (Note : practice of ‘Erfgoed Huis’ in several provinces in NL is good example as place for interns. For community organizations, internship is more appropriate)
Providing financial scheme in form of endowment fund for BPPI with certain agreements to ensure accountability & outreach.
Expertise mobilization for projects in both countries.

Paradigm shift about shared heritage

Providing scheme for masters and doctoral studies about shared heritage both in Indonesia and the Netherlands in cooperation with education institutions. (Note : study scheme stimulates long term in-depth research and knowledge exchanges . The result can be published as books and other materials)
Publication of shared heritage series products in form of printed (e.g. books, postcards) and audio visual materials (e.g. DVD, CD) for tourism segment.
Youth exchange visits between both countries for high-school students.

Keep the Spirit High

From 4-10 Dec I accompanied two colleagues, Sita and Catrini, who visited the Netherlands. We are all from BPPI (Indonesia Heritage Trust.) It was always fun to get together with other members of the same 'habitat.'

5 December. First, we met with the Prince Claus Funds in their brand new office in Amsterdam. The PCF helped BPPI with funds related to the earthquakes in Yogyakarta and West Sumatra. It was a very friendly meeting.

Then we run to the second meeting in Erfgoed Nederland, had lunch with the representatives of the Indonesian Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, the Institute of Netherlands Collections and Dept. of Conservation. Mainly it was about the new policy of the Dutch government related to the shared heritage cooperation with 8 prioritized countries. One of them is Indonesia.

The third meeting was with extra participants from Tropen Museum, Museum Maluku and PAC Consultants. We discussed more about shared heritage from various perspectives, but my attention went to Indonesian footprints in the Netherlands. So far it is always about the Dutch footprints in Indonesia which are mainly focused on built heritage. But actually it is also important to see it in reverse so both sides have the equal understanding about what shared heritage is.

The fourth meeting was only with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and RACM. We discussed about possible cooperation with BPPI.

Then everybody must run to home for the 5 December tradition : gather with family, exchanging presents and poems. Catrini and Sita were invited by Elisabeth who served traditional Spanish dishes. I tried to enjoy and appreciate 'the 5 Dec madness party' at home.

6 December. Catrini went to Brugge. Sita and I (and her friend, Lia) joined Jean-Paul and Hans for heritage tour in Utrecht. This tour was about the reuse of old buildings for new functions. We visited the Dom church, the former court that used as a hotel, the Utrecht Archive office for tourist, a former school as houses, a former church used as apartments and the former police department as a cinema and cafe. We ended up the tour with an Indonesian dinner in the 'Djakarta Restaurant.' I went to Utrecht several times but hardly have idea how many interesting projects until this day. The city centre was very cozy, beautiful and in human scale.

7 December. We went to the Founding Conference of Blue Shield in the Royal Library in the Hague. Sita, Catrini and I are part of founding team of the Indonesian National Committee which is still under construction. To this day the active members of Blue Shield are European countries but I guess it will shift slowly to cover other continents, too. In the evening we finished our homework for presentation tomorrow. We got an accommodation in 'Hotel Sebel' which in Indonesian means nausea. We had a lot of fun with this name.

8 December. Three of us delivered a presentation about 'Heritage Emergency Response' in Indonesia post tsunami until the recent natural disaster. We called ourselves 'Three Musketeers.' It was fun and for the first time we presented together. After the presentation, Catrini and Sita managed to promote the silver jewelleries from Kotagede, Yogyakarta, and raised reasonable funds from the purchases. After the Conference, we had (again) Indonesia dinner in the famous 'Puntjak Restaurant' in the Hague.

9 December. Sita and Catrini joined the workshops but I stayed home to prepare a dinner for heritage invitees. Sita had to leave back to Indonesia this evening but Catrini joined the dinner. It was informal dinner but I noticed that mostly guests talked about work. When heritage freaks meet each other, what else to talk about? Besides, when we like it, it doesn't feel like work anymore.

10 December. I said to Catrini that today we would enjoyed ourselves and no meeting. She attended a conference in New Delhi, direct flew to the Netherlands for another conference, so she deserved a day off. We biked around Amsterdam Southeast and then visited Zaanse Schan. This is a touristic place specially created for tourists who want to see canals, Dutch houses, windmills, cheese making and Dutch wooden shoes making in one go. It was a long day but enjoyable. Catrini had to run to Schiphol this evening.

A lot more to share through this visit but substantially we struggled for the heritage movement in Indonesia in cooperation with the Netherlands. We explored possibilities, built networks, strengthening friendships and spending hours and hours for talks and discussions.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty

One of my task currently is assisting BPPI in establishing the National Committee of Blue Shield Indonesia. The Blue Shield is a kind of red-cross initiative for culture when (natural or war)disaster happens. For this task I came across the presentation of Jan Pronk again which he presented during 'Cultural Emergency Response' Conference in the Hague, 25 September 2006. I was impressed by his thoughts and asked his permission to quote them here. He was very kind to let me to do it.

His speech titled 'Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty.' For the full text you can see through his website : www.janpronk.nl/index263.html but here are several points which caught my attentions.
  • The Taliban wanted to break more than stones of the Buddha statues. They wanted to break the spirit of another religion. They were after the soul of another culture, the mind of people worshipping other gods.

  • The Serbs bombed a national library in Sarajevo because they wanted to destroy the heart of multicultural society.

  • Spaniards, Britons and Dutch plundered their colonies in Africa, Asia and South America by killing indigenous people and shipped others to slave markets. They robbed these societies, bringing indigenous raw materials to Europe and cultural artifacts back home.

  • The destruction of each other's holy buildings (in Jerusalem, Iraq, India and Indonesia) were done in order to break spirits.

  • The hesitation of Western countries to sign and implement international conventions to return stolen cultural property, arguing that the countries of origin can not be trusted to protect their cultural heritage, discloses arrogance, hypocrisy and greed.

  • Culture is an essential element of humanitarian assistance.

  • Other kind of disasters that lead to destruction of cultural objects are economic growth, modernization and globalization. They lead to ruined landscape, a knock-down of age-old city centers and the sacrificing of historical buildings.

  • The looting of the museum in Iraq was a cultural emergency; the destruction of norms and values accompanying the intervention in Iraq was a cultural catastrophe.

  • People hurt each other that much for reason of cultural identity.

  • The reconstruction of this heritage (in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan) is a symbol that life returns, that the society is no longer paralyzed, that the culture is vibrant and that there is no parting between its past and its future.

  • To save some people you have to sacrifice other reflects an erosion of norms and values, a wrecking of cultural beliefs.#

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I have been reading 'Dulari' in the train in the last few days. It is written by Usha Marhe.

It is about six women who tried to look back at their past with Hindustan background. I am happy to find this book since I have been curious for some time about the Hindustani culture. Why?

When I was in Medan, Indonesia, I liked to visit Kampung Madras, an enclave of Indians. It is an interesting area to visit with a traditional market, restaurants, buildings, temples and the smell of Indian scents everywhere. And we won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Merit in 2003 for fixing the Tjong Yong Hian bridge in this area. The bridge for a Chinese Mayor in an Indian area, what a special mixture. And for several years with my friends in Sumatra Heritage Trust we have done a research about Kampung Madras; beautiful pictures about the people and their Indian culture.

And in 2005 I joined IFSAH (International Field School of Asian Heritage) by visiting India for two weeks. I met and talked to heritage movement activists in several cities in India. It left me with a deep impression. I admired them, I was inspired by them and I wanted to visit India again. See http://www.ifsah.net/ifsah3.html

And through Dulari, I got a little bit of idea about Indian workers in plantations in Suriname and Guyana, brought by the Dutch several centuries ago and printed their heritage to these days.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saint Nicolas Came Again....

Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) came again to the Netherlands from Spain last Saturday, 15 November. The official Sinterklaas, it means the Sinterklaas who was officialy organised by the Dutch government, came to Almere Haven. But hundred of other Sinterklaas-es came to other places, too, including to Weesp where we were last week. We came to Weesp every year to welcome the Sinterklaas. For the first two years I was waiting for the boat with Sinterklaas on it and his assistants, the Black Piets, to come. But this year its magic has disappeared and I asked my husband to take care of Dian and I went shopping nearby.

Then I sat in front of a bakery waiting for Dian and her friends to come, all of sudden I heard music and people danced everywhere. The atmosphere became very cheerful and happy. And I saw the Sinterklaas with his white horse, Amerigo. Spontaneously I made a lot of pictures and started to appreciate this Dutch culture. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, remembered all the songs and this celebration really touched the collective memory of the community. Most mayors involved in organizing the coming of Sinterklaas in their cities. The Mayor of Weesp gave a speech from the balcony of his office continued with the Sinterklaas. And everybody listened to them and even sang together some Sinterklaas classic songs. The children were so hypnotized by the old man in the red dress with a long white beard.

If it is not in the collective memory of the Dutch society then the Sinterklaas celebration will not be this merry. Since early November the Dutch television broadcasted "Sinterklaas Journal" everyday for the children. And on 5th December evening is called "Sinterklaas Pakjesavond" means Sinterklaas will visit every good-behaved child discreetly to deliver a present. The whole family will sit together, open the presents and exchanges personal poems for every member of the family, describing a funny character of a person or something special about this person.

I always thought that Sinterklaas celebration is a beautiful conspiration of adults ever in the Netherlands to make children happy. As long as a child still believe in Sinterklaas then the whole family automatically involve in this conspiracy to make sure that Sinterklaas really exists and visits the country all the way from the Spain. This month until early December every parents with small children will run around discreetly, too, to find presents for their children and pretend that the presents really come from the Sinterklaas.

In that evening after Sinterklaas came to Weesp, Dian put a shoe in front of our door before she went to bed. With a big carrot in it, because that what the Sinterklaas has asked the children to do. And the next morning when she woke up, she run to the door and found a small souvenir in the shoe and the carrot for Amerigo has gone. Dian got a cute bracelet from Sinterklaas. And on the evening of 5th December Sinterklaas will come again with another present, usually a bigger one.

It came to my mind probably we could create a story that the Sinterklaas would love to deliver the presents to less lucky children in poor countries. But how to insert this new scenario into the collective conspiration of the whole country?

Shared Culinary Heritage

Lately I had a lot of discussions with my heritage contacts about shared culinary heritage between Indonesia and the Netherlands. We want to do something about it because it is fun, enjoyable and touch everyday life of everyone in both countries. Besides, it is not part of heritage that has been much discussed so far.

Everyone both in Indonesia and the Netherlands can easily mention something that possibly crosses both cultures. During the Moslem's festivity in Indonesia, almost every house has kaastengel or naastar. And in the Netherlands, you can buy spekoek (lapis legit) or sambal in every corner of a city. Those are only a phenomena on surface but deeper it actually reflects a long history, bitter or sweet, between the two countries. We could have hundred conferences and never-ending discussions about history but what we eat from day by day is happening without force from any side. People simply eat and cook what they like. If the Indonesians still make bitterballen and croquette until now that because they like them. If the Dutch loves nasi goreng and rijstaffel, that also because they find them delicious. History? No need to discuss history on the dinner table, just enjoy. But aren't all those food a true reflection of what has happened in the past?

To be back to the fun side, I shared with you some pictures from my favorite bakery "Sweetheart" in Bandung that I took two weeks ago. And a picture from Kebon Kawung Street about that Klappertaart. When I saw all these cookies I wondered if I ever flew 14 hours from Amsterdam to Bandung?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Root and Home

I was born in Semarang and grew up for the first 26 years of my life in Bandung, in a house in Oranjeplein or to be precise, Riau street number 112. The new name of the street is LLRE Martadinata. After 26 years I moved to several places either in Indonesia or outside Indonesia until I reached my current coordinate in Amsterdam. If I think of my root in term of place then I will always think of that house in Riau street. I have stronger memories of my childhood there than other period of my life. If I could recall what a home was, it would be also that same house.

When Dian and I moved to the Netherlands in 2005, the hardest decision I had to take was not about myself but the realization about root and home for Dian. I realized that if Dian grows up and lives in the Netherlands, it would be her root and home with all their consequences : language, norm, value, lifestyle, way of living, way of thinking, culture, habits. To some degree naturally she will receive Indonesian influence from me as her mother but in the years to come she will counts where she grows up as her root and home. At least in term of place. She is born in Indonesia but she lives too short there to have memories. Similar to my experience with Semarang, I have barely memories about Semarang.

At the end I realized that nothing wrong for Dian (or any other children) of being someone with different root and home than her mother. Any root is fine, any culture is equal, any language is fascinating, and as the lyrics of 'Ebony and Ivory' said, "We all know that people are the same where ever we go."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taken for Granted

From my last visit to Indonesia, I noticed that I took pictures of things which I never did before. See here pictures of my lunch in Sogan Village or bunch of tropical fruits. I took more pictures of simple things like this as if I was a tourist. I had to laugh to myself. The truth is I don't take things for granted anymore because in the country where I live now, the Netherlands, I don't see this type of mango or having the same type of lunch as I had in Yogyakarta.

Before, when I visited the Netherlands, I took a lot of pictures of everything, from windmills to street furniture. Now I accompanied a lot of guests and no single picture I have taken.
Again, this is what Pak Tukiman said to me during our walk in Sogan Village two weeks ago. We have a tendency to neglect the near heritage and look for something far away. We have a tendency to take things for granted until those things disappear and difficult to get.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Heritage Education in Indonesia

Between 1-5 November 2008 the Indonesia Heritage Trust (BPPI) and the Netherlands Institute for Heritage (Erfgoed Nederland - EN) organised a training of heritage education for 12 elementary schools around Yogyakarta, Central Java, Indonesia.

In 2006 I drafted the idea to introduce heritage education in Indonesia. I have brought the proposal to Elisabeth Wiessner as my "date" of Stepping Stones program. She works for EN and has experiences about heritage education in the Netherlands. We worked out the proposal together, back and forward finalising it and looking for possibility of funding. It took almost a year when finally EN decided to fund the project itself.

January 2008 we started the project and supposed to end it at September 2009. This is a pilot project to find out a method and materials for heritage education in Indonesia with a trial location in Yogyakarta and surroundings. We showed the materials from the Netherlands and also shared the experiences in the hope that can accelerate the process and avoid the same mistakes if there is any. Cees Hageman joined the force and also a big group from Yogyakarta. In May 2008 the EN and BPPI team met in Jakarta and signed an MoU in the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

The Training in Prambanan area this November attended by teachers and headmasters from 12 elementary schools. For five days we introduced what heritage education is and how to introduce it to the students as an insert to the current curriculum. The BPPI team has worked hard to define the best way to conduct the introductions, not only in the conference room of Hotel Galuh but also visiting sites. The site visits were once under the heat of the sun and the next day was constantly under the heavy rain. Despite of the harsh weather, the participants were enthusiast and kept moving from one program to another program. We started mostly at 8am and back to our bed at about 11pm. Long days.

I enjoyed and learned a lot from my interactions with the participants and the resource persons. The participants are the elementary school teachers who never heard even the word 'heritage.' Sometimes their comments or opinions could be surprising and also refreshing, a kind of reminding for me and other heritage freaks that not everyone out there knows what heritage is. When we had a site visit to Sogan Village, Pak Tukiman talked to me, "Why is this village a heritage? I live in this kind of village, too. When we played the music using the rice sticks from wood, I have that, too, at home. When we saw how the soybean cake -tempe- was made, nothing is new for me because I eat tempe very often. For me, what interesting is to see city or computer with high technology. " The heritage freaks from city thought that Sogan Village is an interesting example of cultural heritage, but Pak Tukiman didn't understand why it is cultural heritage. For him, a tour should be a place where he could see something new and unusual. The awareness of heritage is too abstract to define and also depend on who's point of view. That kind of comment was refreshing for me. It was honest and made me realised that who we are to say that this or that is a heritage.

From the plenary sessions, I got an idea from all presentations that the participants understand heritage as a form of traditional cultural creations such as batik, wayang (puppet), old recipes, etc. It is promising that everyone agree on taking the Javanse language as a communication means at school on certain days. I have to admit that heritage has a very broad definition and scope. It is possible to classify almost all aspects of life as heritage as long as they contribute to identity formation of a community. But the most important is not finding the best definition but catching the essence of it and live with it day by day.

It was rejuvenating to be back to the heritage habitat, even better because it represented both Indonesia and the Netherlands. We are all struggling to the same destination : a future generation with a better understanding about their heritage.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Making the Case for the Conservation and Preservation of Our Cultural Heritage

From my Salzburg network :

Connecting to the World's Collections:
Making the Case for the Conservation and Preservation of our Cultural Heritage
28 Oct - 01 Nov, 2009 (Session 468)

Abstract:Museums and libraries - large and small - around the world house our artistic and cultural heritage. As guardians of unique and irreplaceable treasures, including art works, documents, artifacts, and digital materials, museums and libraries bear the tremendous responsibility of preserving our cultural legacy for present and future generations. Collections stewardship is central to the mission of all cultural heritage institutions, and yet resources for proper preservation and treatment are often sorely lacking, emergency plans are not always in place, and public awareness of and support for conservation is not as strong as it should be. In addition, advances in conservation research and preservation technologies are offering new solutions and strategies for addressing conservation needs.
This session will bring together an international group of cultural leaders, conservation and preservation specialists who work with museums and libraries, representatives of conservation training institutions and associations as well as cultural policymakers to engage in an open exchange of views on optimizing collection conservation. Given the results of such research initiatives as the Heritage Health Index report in the United States, which was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and found that artifacts in America's collections are at risk and in need of immediate attention, there is a clear need for a call to action on this issue, at least in some parts of the world. Participants will thus consider a series of questions: What are the greatest risks to our collections and what strategies can be implemented to manage them? How can sufficient resources be secured to assure - at the very least - minimal conservation standards? What needs to be done in the area of effective emergency preparedness planning? What challenges and opportunities are presented by new technologies and digitization? How can cultural heritage institutions make a better case for conservation to policy makers and private donors to secure the funding they need for proper collection care? How can museums and libraries connect people to their collections to garner the public support they need to make better conservation and preservation a priority and a reality?
The fee for this session is 3,300 EURO. The fee covers the cost of the program, accommodations, and meals. Limited scholarship funding may be available for those who are unable to pay the full fee (i.e. from developing countries or NGOs). Participants seeking scholarship assistance must submit an application for financial aid to our admissions office.

Related Sessions
Achieving the Freer Circulation of Cultural Artifacts
09 May - 14 May, 2008 (Session 453) Libraries in the 21st Century
23 Oct - 30 Oct, 2004 (Session 422)
© 2008 Salzburg Global Seminar

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mega Eltra and Beyond

Yesterday I received a request from Catrini, the Executive Director of Indonesia Heritage Trust, about slides & stories of Mega Eltra case in Medan. Earlier this year, my colleague, Sita from Yogya, has suggested me also to write an article to commemorate 5 years demolition of the building.

In 2003 on behalf of Sumatra Heritage Trust, I was involved in an effort to save the Mega Eltra building from demolition done by a triangle conspiracy amongst bureaucrats, militaires and capitalists. The story went relatively dramatic and seemed to leave a mark in the Indonesian heritage network. I have to say that I didn't realised about it. My colleagues and I in the Sumatra Heritage Trust did what we supposed to do without any intention of publicity or what so ever. If the case received a lot of publicity it was because of the scale and nature of the case itself. The fact that it was done by the perfect conspiracy we could think of in Indonesia : those who have authority to decide, those who have physical power and those who have money. And we? We are citizens who merely depend on our common sense. Nothing more.

That nature of work, based on common sense, is my understanding and principle of my actions in heritage field, either as a conceptor or practitioner. The Mega Eltra case was one of my involvement, but I am involved in many other cases, too, non-stop since 1993. I was invited by Toeti Sudibyo and Frances Affandy to help Bandung Heritage with their newsletters. Since then, heritage became and become my passions because its contribution to human's life. It is far beyond historical buildings & story telling. Heritage is so wide and deep as width & depth as life itself. Since then I also learned that heritage is very close to politics, power and money. Even now when I live in the Netherlands, I also learned the same things. Modus operandi might be in different forms but the principles are similar. That is why I always see that all cases are equally interesting and important. What I want to say is that I never think Mega Eltra as a special case. All cases are specials for me. But as Catrini said, she needed a hint to let her audience learned about community participation in heritage movements in Indonesia. And pictures speak always more than thousand words.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Only If We Could Choose

Lately I am amazed about discussions on the media related to the background of people as if we could choose where we are born, from whom and how we look like.

Barack Obama is an example whom globally exposed by the media of being special because he is the first African American president candidate.

Yesterday, Ahmed Aboutaleb was chosen as the new Mayor of Rotterdam. Leefbaar Rotterdam, the opposition party, was against the decision because of his Morocco background. He has been living in the Netherlands since he was 16 and openly declared his loyalty to the country through his positions in politics. So far he has a good reputation and good intentions through his efforts to integrate immigrants and marginal groups into the Dutch society. But why did some people want him to deny his Moroccan identity and background? "Send his Moroccan passport by mail back to the Moroccan King," they said. What a suggestion. Why can't people just value his capacities, his records and achievements?

Identity is something that someone gets naturally. It is unfair to judge someone based on his/her identity. It is too shallow to stereotype someone based on skin colour or background, especially with negative tone. Could we choose our identity? And who says that one identity is better than the other?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Threatening Heritage

Last night I went to the "Erfgoed Arena" (erfgoed = heritage), regular discussions organized by the Reinwardt Academy and Erfgoed Nederland. The theme was the threatening heritage. It is not heritage which are threaten as generally understood but heritage which threat the identity and history of a nation (in this case the Netherlands).

Rob van der Laarse from the UvA said that a heritage can threat depends on context and how we look and interpret it. He gave some examples, e.g. a statement of Princess Maxima that a Dutch identity doesn't exist (which widely quoted by everyone) or a new painting collection of the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam which represented national socialist movement in country.

The other speaker was mostly talking about importance of accepting multicultural heritage in daily life, comparing his experiences in Israel (lived 12 years there) and the Netherlands. Talking about Jews, lately a researcher from UvA has exposed a house in Amsterdam which he said still intact with original typical Jews house interior. Last night he was there, too, so we had a long discussion about this house.

The last speaker talked about recognition of slavery done by the Dutch for 300 years in Suriname, Netherlands Antillian and Ghana. It led to an interesting discussion about the existence of Zwarte Piet (black helpers) who always appears every December together with Sinterklaas (the Saint Claus). There is other interpretation, too, from the Dutch side that actually the Zwarte Piet, is not a black slavery but a white man who try to enter a house to deliver gifts through chimney.

And the discussions shifted to the colonial periods of the Dutch, mentioned also Indonesia and other colonies. I was always wonder how the Dutch felt about this because this topic appeared so often in discussions and every time psychologically I simply became awkward to react. A kind of abstract situation which is complicated to comprehend. At least for me.

One young student admitted that she didn't know about colonial history until she entered university. Luckily she studied heritage in the Reinwardt that is why she was exposed to history. What about young people out there who have nothing to do with heritage or history studies?

All and all, I found Erfgoed Arena is a useful discussion platform for students and senior ones either teachers or practitioners in heritage field.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Asian Cities - Legacies of Modernity

The 7th mAAN Conference will be held in New Delhi, India, from 23rd to 25th February 2009. The mAAN-7 conference will be located at the famous India International Centre and in close proximity to the early-20th century heart of New Delhi, one of the most endangered urban heritages of the modern world.

The fate of “‘Lutyens’ New Delhi” – as it is widely known, in memory of the garden city’s chief architect and author of its final plan, Edwin Lutyens – is symptomatic of the beleaguered future of other such modern cities, where the heritage precinct circumscribes a prized parcel of land, preserving the image of the modern city, but at odds with the density and social character of the contemporary.

The fascinating aspect of the modern city and its tenuous existence within the contemporary metropolis is that it not only represents the spatial imagination and technology of the recent past, but is also a receptacle for polarities of privacy and publicity, of native and foreign, of order and chaos and status and hierarchy, that are now being replaced by the simulacra of post-industrial society. Space is no longer a binding or a divisive force; it is instead a common ground where the common interest of consumerism can be played out. Landscape is no longer a binding of spatial relationships; it is now the ornament worn by the enclaves of wealth. What binds the whole is infrastructure, the single parameter for judging whether the modern should be relegated to the urban trash heap or allowed to exist as a symbol of luxury or economy.

mAAN invites presentations about the myriad ways in which the modern city contributes to the formation of a modern identity. It shall inquire whether, by revitalizing the modern, the city is itself reinvented. And it will promote the idea that concerted action is needed – in the form of documentation, discourse and intervention – in order to conserve the vital socio-cultural and economic resource represented by the modern Asian city.

Call for PapersThe organizers of the conference invite abstracts for papers on the following themes:1. The knowing modern cities of Asia2. Regulating the modern architectural precinct3. Participatory processes in revitalization4. The educational imperative: training for conservation
Abstracts should be 500 words, with the name of the principal and subsidiary authors clearly indicated. Keywords should be indicated at the end of abstracts.

Abstracts should be E-mailed to the mAAN7 Secretariat (maan7newdelhi@gmail.com) latest by 3rd November 2008. Authors of the short-listed abstracts shall be required to submit their complete papers latest by 2nd January 2009.

SESSION 1The ‘knowing’ modern cities of Asia
A large number of Asian cities carry evidences of continuous historical evolution, from ancient civilizations to the contemporary urban agglomeration. Each of these cities, from Istanbul and Cairo to Delhi to Beijing and Tokyo, has an ever-changing urban matrix in which the historical cores and precincts are inextricably embedded. To know the contemporary Asian city is to appreciate the accretive character of urban growth as well as the durability of the city itself, which seems to have the capacity to absorb endlessly. However, heritage in general is under threat in these cities. Because the heritage building or precinct is usually an awkward artifact -- resistant to the logic of modern planning and management yet compelling in its social and aesthetic unity -- it has become the bane of the urban developer, more convenient to be discarded than to be assimilated. It is as if each building knows something, is a teller of history, and could either be welcomed or be treated as a threat, telling stories that contemporary society does not want to hear.
The session will combine presentations that explore the urban knowledge embedded in modern heritage, and the process by which the conservation and revitalization process can be a enlightening process, informing and assuring the present-day society of its past, uncovering a knowledge that is too valuable to be lost. Papers could engage with the theoretical, practical and documentary aspects of the subject, presenting ways of seeing the Asian city that have been overlooked and potentials in heritage conservation that have not been tapped.

SESSION 2Regulating the modern architectural precinct
The modern architectural precinct presents a peculiar set of problems for the heritage conservationist and the city administrator. Unlike ancient heritage, which has a morphological character and scale that is radically different from the plan and intent of the contemporary metropolis, the modern precinct represents a stage in the evolution of the metropolis itself. Preserving and revitalizing the modern precinct is thus a task that requires the administrator to be also a historian, and the developer to be also a curator. Drafting a set of regulations for a modern precinct is like creating a code for preserving a specific practice of urban living, not merely the edifice that represents a distant past.
mAAN invites papers and presentations on the subject of legislation and administration for the specific purpose of revitalizing modern heritage precincts. We invite a discussion of examples from Asian and non-Asian countries, where the existence of built heritage from the 19th and 20th centuries has attracted the attention of planners, administrators and conserving communities. The session shall focus on the premise that good governance lies at the core of a policy regime that is directed towards preserving a character that is unique and irreplaceable, thereby preventing – legally and institutionally -- the assault of modern heritage by conspicuous consumption of urban space.

SESSION 3Participatory processes in revitalization
A significant aspect of the revitalization of modern heritage is the growing need for local participation and collaboration amongst the public and various stakeholders, as well as the active involvement of the government. Unlike the preservation of archeological sites, modern heritage is usually a lived-in built environment that commands a high price, because of its usually privileged location within the metropolis, and also houses a category of persons -- say, the industrial worker, or the welfare state officer -- that is becoming outmoded and redundant in the new economy. Modern heritage precincts, many of them residential or mixed-use planned neighborhoods, are sites of conflict and potential resolution, thus becoming the locations for cooperative rebuilding of the city.
mAAN seeks presentations of successful participatory processes leading to the preservation and revitalization of modern heritage precincts. Papers could explore a variety of approaches to encourage participation, analyze existing models of the conservation process, and document examples of successful community-based revitalization.

SESSION 4The educational imperative: training for conservation
It is a widely perceived that the process and final outcomes of the revitalization of modern heritage requires the professionals and other stakeholders to have particular skills; intellectual, social and communicational. Further, these skills are different for different Asian societies, depending on the relationships between practitioners and government, and between society and professionals.
mAAN would like to explore the diversity as well as the commonality between the scenarios in different countries, in order to arrive at a shared understanding of the steps that need to be taken; generally, at a pan-Asian level, and particularly, for specific countries, to ensure that the field of heritage revitalization is adequately served by professionals with the appropriate skills, knowledge and sensibility.
Papers would typically address the challenges of education and training for the field of modern heritage revitalization, either discussing and comparing different pedagogical and professional approaches, or sharing case studies that illustrate emerging dimensions of the phenomenon. Papers could also discuss the variety of techniques now available for the task of revitalization, and the ways in which knowledge-processing, mapping and similar technologies are able to assist the field of heritage conservation.

For updates please go to --> http://www.m-aan.org/

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shared Heritage Reception

On Thursday, 25Th September 2008 I was invited to attend a "Shared Heritage Reception" in the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science in the Hague.

The Dutch Government has a new policy about international co operations with its ex-colonies, one of them is Indonesia, and they wanted to socialize this new policy. The main thing is about allocation of budget which now distributes through the Embassies in the partner countries.

I met the Indonesian delegation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Indonesian Embassy. We were together most of the time simply because there were a lot to catch up. But some people came to talk to us, too, and we had good laughs and conversations. We even thought about a join cooperation for a very interesting project with one of the Dutch partner.

In this sort of occasion I thought how small the heritage network is. I met the people and I encountered the names which are very familiar already in the network for years. One or two new names but mostly are the old boys and girls. On one side this gives comfort, on another side sometimes I wonder why heritage doesn't attract a lot of people like other professions. I am sure the gathering of doctors, architects or lawyers will be well attended by hundred or even thousand audiences. Heritage is really a nucleus.

During the conversation, came up the question what is the meaning of shared heritage for the ex-colonies. The term is proposed and based on the needs of the Netherlands. It is interesting to know and learn what the partner countries proposal and needs of their heritage. Are they willing to share, too?

After the reception, I went to dinner with Cor Passhier and Pak Gatot from Indonesia. We wanted to find an Indonesian restaurant but ended up in an Italian restaurant who provided Indonesian soup (soto) and rice. What an idea.

Erfgoed a la Carte

Part of my involvement in heritage education, I have attended the Closing Conference of Erfgoed a la Carte (erfgoed = heritage), in Spoorwegmuseum (Railway Museum), Utrecht, 24th Sept 2008. I have written the report in Indonesian because I sent it to my Indonesian network.
Rabu, 24 September 2008, saya menghadiri penutupan Program "Erfgoed a la Carte" yang kalau diterjemahkan secara harafiah berarti "Prasmanan Pusaka", lokasinya di Museum Kereta Api, Utrecht.
Prasmanan Pusaka adalah program stimulasi edukasi pusaka untuk sekolah dasar yang dilaksanakan antara 2004-2008 oleh 15 organisasi di Belanda, terdiri dari institusi pendidikan dan organisasi pusaka. Pimpinan proyeknya Cees Hageman yang sudah kita kenal dengan baik. Tujuan utama proyek ini adalah untuk merangsang agar edukasi pusaka dapat diintegrasikan kedalam kurikulum sekolah dasar dan juga kehidupan sehari-hari siswa. Caranya adalah melalui kerjasama antara sekolah-sekolah dasar dengan berbagai organisasi heritage yaitu museum, arsip, arkeologi, monumen dan perpustakaan.

Penerjemahan programnya dilakukan di lingkungan yang terdekat dengan lokasi sekolah, antara lain sebagai contoh :

Kunjungan ke Organisasi Pusaka
1 dan 2 Kegiatan di alam terbuka, kebun atau taman bersejarah
3 Museum berskala kecil
4 Perpustakaan atau arsip
5 Arkeologi atau urban arkeolog
6 Museum berskala besar
7 Pusaka industri
8 Pusaka bergerak

Subsidi diberikan oleh Pemerintah Belanda per siswa sejumlah 10.90 euro.

Setelah 4 tahun dilaksanakan, Prasmanan Pusaka ditutup dengan acara diskusi dan evaluasi. Hal-hal yang menarik untuk diperhatikan antara lain :

1. Ketika Prasmanan Pusaka dimulai dianggap "tidak penting" oleh beberapa sekolah karena skala penyelenggaraannya yang terbatas dan oleh organisasi pusaka yang relatif kecil;
2. Namun Prasmana Pusaka kemudian memberi wacana untuk kaitan antara pendidikan, kebudayaan dan pusaka;
3. Sebagai perpanjangan kebijakan Pemerintah Belanda yang memberikan subsidi 15 euro per siswa untuk edukasi budaya dalam bentuk kartu yang dapat digunakan untuk mengunjungi museum, teater, dll, secara gratis;
4. Sebetulnya pusaka itu berfungsi sebagai alat atau tujuan?
5. Materi yang baik sangat penting karena dapat digunakan dalam jangka panjang;
6. Prasmanan Pusaka berjalan lebih baik dan lancar di kota-kota kecil; sedangkan di kota besar seperti Amsterdam relatif lebih banyak menghadapi kendala;
7. Hal yang perlu diperhatikan adalah pengembangan materi pelajaran dan struktur kerjasama antarorganisasi;
8. Sebagai tindaklanjut akan dibentuk forum ahli terdiri dari orang-orang yang terlibat dalam Prasmanan Pusaka.

Acara penutupan juga diisi dengan tur keliling museum dan pameran tentang berbagai materi edukasi pusaka.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sad Story

In 2003 Sumatra Heritage Trust received the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Merit for its project to refurbish a historical bridge "Tjong Yong Hian" in Kampung Madras, Medan, Indonesia. More info about this can be seen through http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=2185

One specific thing I was proud of this project is the historical sign that has been designed by volunteer Soewandi so nicely and placed next to the bridge. Every pedestrian can read the text and photo in English and Indonesian. This was part of public education and promotion of the historical value of the bridge.

When I was in Indonesia this year I was told that the historical sign has been stolen. Disappeared. I was stunned. The most shocking news from Medan. I knew that economic life is getting more difficult but it is unthinkable that someone would steal the sign, the metal part to be cut in pieces and sold for almost nothing. I am sure that whatever rupiahs the stealer has earned is not equal with the value of the sign for public.

I was sad and concern.


Being an Indonesian in the Netherlands I am amazed to how much I am exposed to the word "Indonesia" or "the Dutch Indies" from time to time. It is true that the Dutch has settled about 350 years in Indonesia but Indonesia has been independent since 1945. Apparently 63 years are relatively short to get rid of what has happened between the two nations.

A small example. I have chosen a small book titled "Laatste Schooldag" (the Last School Day) by Jan Siebelink because I want to learn about school life in the Netherlands. And all of sudden in one part of the book appeared a story about gold mining of Sumatra.

Other story. Last Sunday I joined a tour to Fort of Abcoude. The guide told a long story and suddenly mentioned that the Fort has been used as an exercise place for armies who went to the Dutch Indies in the 50's.

Several months back I went to a jail museum in Drenthe Province. All participants biked, lunched, walked and during the talk I found out that the former hospital was for the malaria patients who went back from Indonesia.

I could go on and on with thousand examples. The point is every time I am exposed to stories and words of Indonesia I feel so close historically to the Netherlands, it almost feel like a home. I doesn't mean I agree with what they have done in Indonesia, but history is part of our current life, whether or not we like it. To some degree it reflects on many facet of daily life. Probably a Dutch person will feel the same feeling if he/she is in Indonesia and to see how much Dutch elements in the Indonesian life.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Open Monumentendag

The Open Monumentendag (Heritage Days) is designed to bring people into contact with the historic environment, and to encourage interest in and understanding of historical monuments and the need for their preservation. During the Open Monumentendag - every second weekend of September - thousands of historical buildings and sites (about 4,000) are open to the public free of charge. Besides opening their doors, many locations also organise on-site activities like exhibitions, music and guided tours. Each year around 80 to 85 percent of Dutch municipalities participate in the Open Monumentendag, organised by local committees. In recent years around 900,000 visitors have participated annually, making the Open Monumentendag one of the Netherlands' premier cultural events.

The Open Monumentendag in the Netherlands started in 1987 and is co-ordinated nationally by the Stichting Open Monumentendag, which has its office in Amsterdam. The Open Monumentendag is part of an international organisation, the European Heritage Days. The Netherlands was one of the first countries to participate and played a key-role in establishing this Europe-wide phenomenon in the 1990s. Today 48 countries are affiliated with the European Heritage Days, which attracts around 20 million visitors every September and October, all keen to explore Europe’s cultural heritage.

Open Monumentendag has established itself as an integral part of the Dutch cultural calendar and has helped significantly in rallying support for the preservation of historical monuments in the Netherlands.

Theme 2008: Traces
Traces: Archaeology and History of Building

In 2008, the European Heritage Day in the Netherlands in the weekend of 13 and 14 September is about Traces. All kinds of traces: in the landscape, in cities and villages, and in historical monuments. As a theme, Traces provides ample space for archaeology and history of building. These are subjects that receive considerable attention in the Netherlands. Archaeology in particular thanks to the 2007 law regarding preservation and care of archaeological sites, which specifically defines and regulates protection for all subterranean historical monuments. While research into the structural history of buildings plays an increasingly important role in the conservation of historical monuments.Wide Assortment
Nearly all the country’s 350 participating local committees have adopted the theme, resulting in a wide range of open monuments and activities. Among the features this year are landscape elements such as barrows, burial mounds, raised villages, and walled castles; in the cities and villages the focus is on church aisles, street plans, advertising on walls and plaques. Traces inside historical monuments also plays its part, traces such as ancient beams, floors and other architectural elements, as well as old wallpaper, murals and upholstery. Traces includes any remains or reference to what used to be. Traces may point to occupation, construction or the struggle to control the water and protect the land. (resource : http://www.openmonumentendag.nl/)