Book Launch: A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes
The book centers on the literary piece Als ik eens Nederlander was, written and published in 1913 by the Indonesian nationalist and polemic thinker Soewardi Soerjaningrat. Poignant and filled with repressed rage, this essay is both a fearless critique towards the Dutch colonists and an eloquent manifesto calling for a new national Indonesian identity. However, this nationalistic gesture of resistance is shown to be problematic in light of the complex evolution of colonial and postcolonial politics. The fact that Soerwardi himself changed his “strategy” – and with this his name to Ki Hajar Dewantara – from an oppositional activist to an education reformer, looking into the limits within the camp of “us” – not them – and pursuing a new educational practice called Taman Siswa (Garden of Students), only underscores this.
The duality of these positions of resistance, here personified in one figure, guides the publication and opens up the questions for this event. In the company of the contributors to the book and other invited speakers, we will exchange ideas for urgent pedagogic matters – or other modes of protest- concerning the postcolonial condition, and its echoes. By doing this, we will discuss how we can propose a move beyond the topics of (post)colonial victimhood or guilty consciousness, identity politics or the crisis of national identity, towards the construction of a transnational imaginary field where new ethos and subjectivity can be developed.
A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes is the first edition of the Electric Palm Tree Textbook series, which aims to complement textbooks in the existing educational context while reassessing the politics of culture and addressing cultural complexity in an increasingly globalised world. Electric Palm Tree is a long-term curatorial project for transnational research and practice, which is currently developed by Casco.
Book launch of A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes taking place on May 13, 2011 in the framework of the program Books@Temporary Stedelijk at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Paulus Potterstraat 13, Amsterdam)
This event marks the launch of the publication A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes. The book, edited by curator Binna Choi and artist Wendelien van Oldenborgh, assembles several voices and modes of engaging with today’s postcolonial condition as instanced by the Dutch-Indonesian colonial history and its contemporary legacy.
13.30 Prologue by Binna Choi (director Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Utrecht) and Wendelien van Oldenborgh (visual artist, Rotterdam)
13.50 Intervention with Nuraini Juliastuti (director KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta)
14.10 Presentations by Lizzy van Leeuwen (cultural anthropologist), Anke Bangma (curator of contemporary arts, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam), Baukje Prins (lector Haagse Hogeschool, The Hague) and Nancy Jouwe (program director, Kosmopolis, Utrecht)
Anke Bangma is a cultural theorist and curator. In 2009 she realized the exhibition ‘Performing Evidence’ at SMART Project Space, Amsterdam, which was the culmination of the research project ‘Performative Documents’. The project aimed to contribute to discussions about the document and about the relation between representation and reality, with a specific focus on the structuring role of visual practices for people’s behaviour, identity and sense of self. From 1999 until 2007, Bangma was course director of the Fine Art programme at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam. She was recently appointed as curator of contemporary arts at the Tropenmuseum Amsterdam, taking up a new position within the museum.
Nancy Jouwe is program director at Kosmopolis Utrecht, a platform that nourishes a profound dialogue between communities through art and culture, both nationwide and in an international context. Jouwe is also director of Papua Cultural Heritage Foundation in Utrecht. She is particularly interested in women studies, gender and ethnicity, Papua heritage and identity, and intercultural or transcultural art projects. Jouwe co-published several books, including ‘Papua’s? Oja, die bestaan echt, hè? Een inventarisatie van de positie van Papuavrouwen in Nederland, 1958-1992’ (with Marlise Mensink, 1993) and ‘Caleidoscopische Visies. De zwarte, migranten- en vluchtelingenvrouwenbeweging in Nederland’ (with Maayke Botman and Prof. Gloria Wekker, 2000).
Nuraini Juliastuti is a cultural anthropologist, critic and writer. She is co-founder and director of KUNCI Cultural Studies Center in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, a platform concerned with investigative approaches to cultural issues, which organises educational and youth empowerment activities. Juliastuti’s writings focus on and review the postcolonial Indonesian condition in relation to its historiography, whereby she reflects on the discourse in terms of organic hybridities generated by the mass media. Nuraini Juliastuti is a contributor to the book ‘A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes’.
Lizzy van Leeuwen is a cultural anthropologist who writes for the weekly journal ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’. Her research focuses on issues such as postcolonial and migrant identity politics, and Dutch-Indo relations in the postcolonial context, while stressing the absence of meaningful debate in the Netherlands with regards to Indonesian (de)colonisation. In this light, she organised an investigative project as part of ‘Bringing history home: Postcolonial Identity Politics in the Netherlands’ (2005-2008), initiated by the Royal Dutch Academy for Sciences and the research institute NOW, eventually resulting in the book ‘Ons Indisch Erfgoed: zestig jaar strijd om cultuur en identiteit’ (2008). Lizzy van Leeuwen is contributor to the book ‘A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes’.
Baukje Prins is lector Citizenship and Diversity at the Haagse Hogeschool in The Hague. Prins’ research evolves around feminist theory, multiculturalism and citizenship. She addresses issues such as ethnicity, identity as a narrative construction and integration and immigration in the Netherlands and in comparison to other countries. In 1997 she received a PhD with a dissertation on the subject of feminist epistemology and the Dutch minorities discourse. Prins is a writer for several magazines and has been part of public debates. Her book on interethnic relations in the Netherlands, based on the lives of her Frisian and Moluccan classmates from the sixties, will be published in August 2011.
Binna Choi is director of Casco — Office for Art, Design and Theory, an Utrecht based public institution dedicated to research-based and interdisciplinary practices in the fields of art and design, with an emphasis on collaborative and imaginary modes of inquiry into our social and political environments. Together with curator Kyongfa Che she has organised Electric Palm Tree, a transnational artistic research project that focuses on the politics of culture and knowledge production. Binna Choi is contributor and editor of the book ‘A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes’.
Wendelien van Oldenborgh is an artist based in Rotterdam. Her work focuses on the dynamics of cultural identity in society by communicating the interactions between individuals, often working against the historical grain and in (public) locations, using the cinematic lens to investigate these intricacies, allowing for an alternative public discourse to take place. Currently, she is working on a new production for If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, an Amsterdam based platform for the exploring of performance and performativity in contemporary art and she will be participating in the upcoming Venice Biennale. Wendelien van Oldenborgh is contributor and initiator of the book A Well Respected Man or Book of Echoes.