Arts and Culture
The history of the Dutch colonization of the Dutch East Indies is in the centre of interest in the Netherlands at the moment. Hardly a week goes by without the newspapers writing about the behaviour of the Dutch and the question about what ‘really’ happened during the colonial period. In my paper I will focus on the genre of travel writing of the Indies from the colonial period: a highly relevant social genre, because it is able to reflect, represent, and co-shape reality. A flood of Dutch travel text has been preserved, written by men, women and children, mostly from the nineteenth and twentieth century. To balance this colonial picture, I will examine the indigenous perspective. How did indigenous travelers ‘reclaim’ the land that was taken from them? In contrast to indigenous peoples living under British colonization, the peoples of the Indies were largely excluded from the use of the colonizer's language, Dutch. As a result, hardly any instances of ‘writing back’ in Dutch are to be found. What would be the result to read such indigenous texts from a postcolonial perspective? In my paper I will present an analysis of two indigenous travel texts that have been published in translation: the travel account of the Javanese nobleman Radèn Mas Adipati Arjo Purwalelena (2013), who traveled on Java between 1860 and 1875, and the account of by the Javanese prince Radèn Mas Arya Suryasuparta, who traveled to Leiden in 1913 to study.