From Yogyakarta to Independence: Negotiating Narratives in the Historical Reenactment of Re-colonization in Indonesia

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While most research on reenactments has been done in Western countries, Zurné in chapter 6 analyzes Indonesia’s reenactments of the Nation Revolution (1945–49) against the colonial powers, which has long been glorified. At the end of President Suharto’s thirty-two-year rule (1967–98) and monopoly over the production of history, there was an opening of new spaces to renegotiate Indonesian history and a loss in reenactments popularity. However, in 2013 a local historical society resumed the yearly event. The chapter analyses how the reenactors of the historical society Komunitas
Djokjakarta 1945 have dealt with this sensitive issue in their annual performances in both 2016 and 2019. The conclusion is that these reenactments should not be simply interpreted as bottom-up history but rather as complex negotiations between and within reenactors, historical societies and other stakeholders involved. In 2016, the reenactment emphasized a mythic past in which ordinary Indonesian citizens were presented as the most important agents in history-making, counteracting the state-centered nationalism under former president Suharto’s rule. In 2019 however, the re-enactment’s narrative has changed in line with Suharto’s critics and the region’s agenda, namely to declare March 1st as a national day: the Enforcement of Sovereignty Day. Following the re-invented slogan “From Yogya to Independence,” Yogyakarta is now presented as the epicenter of sovereignty. The reenactment has become the center stage to revive the region’s mythic past, and Yogyakarta’s revolutionary character, while celebrating its Sultanate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHistorical Reenactment
Subtitle of host publicationNew Ways of Experiencing History
EditorsMario Carretero, Brady Wagoner, Everardo Perez-Manjarrez
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-80073-541-5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2022

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