Report of the second workshop at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta

By Henk Schulte Nordholt

On 1 and 2 May 2018, researchers of the ‘Regional Studies and ‘Violence, BersiapBerdaulat’ subprojects held a workshop in Yogyakarta together with their Indonesian colleagues of the ‘Proklamasi, Kemerdekaan, Revolusi dan Perang di Indonesia’ (Proclamation, Independence, Revolution and War in Indonesia) project to give concrete form to plans for cooperation. An animated exchange of information, perspectives and insights took place in an informal atmosphere. Different views, concepts and terms were comprehensively discussed. What one person referred to as ‘Indonesian decolonization’ was referred to by another as ‘the Dutch occupation’. The discussion revealed that we are not seeking a shared research language as such. Rather, we are taking the diversity of perspectives, terminologies and questions as the starting point.

Just as the Indonesian National Revolution, its uncertain outcomes notwithstanding, was an adventure driven forward by the hope of victory, the group of researchers consider this project to be a shared adventure that we will bring to a successful conclusion. 

The decision was made to jointly analyse developments in North and West Sumatra, Central and East Java, Bali and South Sulawesi. The Dutch researchers will focus on the Dutch military violence at the time, while their Indonesian colleagues will assess the impact of that violence on society. The researchers will also study how, in those uncertain times, people in different places started shaping a new nation and what it meant to be an Indonesian.

In the final session, we became aware of how special this project about the Indonesian National Revolution is because it is part of the decolonization process of the Dutch historiography itself. Simultaneously, the project can possibly open up new perspectives for all of us involved. 

Although the researchers are now continuing their projects individually, they will remain in touch with each other through a shared internet platform. The next workshop will take place in the spring of 2019. Plans for a joint publication will be detailed during this workshop.