The main activity of the foundation is to translate recent publications from Dutch and Indonesian media that refer to the colonial past.
We believe that – besides the large distance – also the language barrier stands in the way of a more complete understanding of history and the world in which we live now. For the Dutch audience it may be insightful to read how Indonesian journalists and historians write about the colonial past. And vice versa; Indonesians may be surprised to learn about the ideas and sentiments that still live among Dutch people when it comes to colonial history. As pieces of information, our translations also aim to support historical research and processes of truth-finding. Our point of departure is explicitly anti-colonial, that is the notion that colonial occupations, and everything related, are severe human rights violations.
However, the translations as such, may contain colonial thoughts and ideas, and sometimes painful language. In most cases the articles were published elsewhere. In that sense we are not creating original content. Therefore we do not accept articles that have not yet been published. We are not a regular publication platform. The same counts for articles that are only available in Dutch or Indonesian alone. (We accept English publications as this language functions as a ‘bridge’ between Dutch and Indonesian.) Our core business is to collect translations to break down the language barrier. In general, Histori Bersama aims to provide insight in the variety of ideas, however painful and incorrect they maybe be. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the original authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Histori Bersama.
Histori Bersama was officially founded on September 20, 2016 in Rotterdam.
Marjolein van Pagee – Founder & treasurer
An old portrait of my grandfather in military uniform triggered me to do research about his actions during the Indonesian Independence war (1945-1949). I found out that he joined the Dutch Marines in Surabaya between 1947 and 1949. The discovery of his portrait encouraged me to start the photo- and interview project ‘Kembang Kuning – Yellow Flower’. From 2010 onwards I interviewed and portrayed more than fifty Dutch and Indonesian veterans. During my several trips to East-Java, Indonesia, I came across different historical perspectives. For Indonesians, the independence war marked the birth of an independent state, while people in the Netherlands have difficulty with facing the truth about 350 years of occupation that preceded the last reoccupation war.
Worldwide not many people speak the Dutch language. As a result The Netherlands got away with many human rights violations. Contemporary discussions often remain Dutch-centered, with no confrontation from outside. Through Histori Bersama I want to break down the language barrier to reveal to outsiders what is going on in the Netherlands.
Marjolein is historian, photographer and publicist. She obtained her Master degree in Colonial and Global history at Leiden University.
Daniël Samar – Chair
I am the oldest of three and a descendant of a grandmother from Kalimantan and a grandfather from Tanimbar. My father, together with his parents, set foot on the Dutch shore in 1951. He settled in the Achterhoek (East Netherlands), where he met a white Dutch woman, my mother. They had three children together. I like say that everyone involved in Dutch-Indonesian history is represented in me, which does not mean that I had any knowledge of it. In my youth I often had a displaced feeling like ‘what am I doing here, why am I here, I don’t look like my [white] Dutch friends.’ In Zutphen where I grew up there was quite a big ‘Indies’ community. I spent a lot of time with them and from those contacts my interest in the history of Indonesia grew. Those were the first baby steps in my search to find pieces of information that could answer my questions. For me, it was a long journey where, little by little, I began to discover what happened in the past. I came to realize that the version of history told in the Netherlands is not correct. In the Dutch perspective the Dutch East Indies was ‘their’ former colony, where they were ‘present’. They never use the term ‘occupier’ to describe their role.
This already shows how fragmented colonial history is in the Netherlands. That fragmentation did not only leave an impact on the history production itself, or rather the falsification of history, but also on me as a person that was searching for answers. It does something to you as a human being. We are all people of flesh and blood, we are not hard disks on which you can upload information. I still find it very difficult to see that no equal relationship has been created for Indonesian researchers to study the history here. Because of that, Dutch history is very Eurocentric. In my work as a musician and producer, it is mainly about making human connections through music. This is how I came into contact with different cultures as well. I have been working in Germany for more than 10 years and lived there for 5 years. They have dealt very differently with their past than the Netherlands. It strikes me that Dutch people already know very little about Indonesia, but outside the Netherlands people know even less, especially when it comes to the history. That is why the work of Histori Bersama is so important.
Daniël Samar is a performing musician and producer.
Asri Prasadani – Secretary
I was born and raised in the Netherlands, yet I have always been very aware of my Indonesian identity. I’m the daughter of Indonesian parents and I’m grateful that my parents always spoke in Indonesian to me, because language is one of the most important keys to understanding a culture. Besides language, they taught me awareness regarding historical and political issues. Because of my background I realized from early on how different the colonial history was taught at school and it struck me that Dutch history schoolbooks still refer to the year of 1949, instead of 1945 as the moment that Indonesia became independent. When it comes to the relationship between former colonized and former colonizers it is important to hear both sides of the story, and to critically listen to both sides, because one source is never sufficient or completely correct.
Asri resides in Amsterdam and has an educational background in Religious Studies
I am a researcher in cultural studies, concerned with contemporary issues like postcolonial issues, social media, pop culture and cultural industry. My background of education is English literature (bachelor), media and cultural studies (master) and philosophy (master).
I am involved in various projects such as the founding of Brikolase: Center for Art and Cultural Studies, I am also a frequent translator for Histori Bersama, organizing decolonial discussions, which are published on YouTube and I am involved in conducting cultural research.
I have published 4 books about cultural studies that discuss contemporary issues about Indonesia and other global issues.
Currently I am working as lecturer in Yogyakarta and I am also an editor in chief at PortalYogya.com, a local online media platform.
“Hi, I am Batari, from Indonesia” that’s how I introduce myself to people when I am in China.
My grandfather was one of the first lieutenants of Indonesian national army (TRI, now TNI), who led troops from Java to my hometown in South Sulawesi during the period of Dutch Military Aggression in Indonesia from 1947 to 1949, in order to fight against Westerling, a Turk who was fighting on behalf of the Dutch. Living in China has opened my eyes, because hearing the Nanjing massacre made me think again of Westerling massacre, where 40.000 Indonesians were killed.
Also when I was living in China I found out that my grandfather was captured by Westerling, a person that we know in Indonesia as a ‘cold blooded killer monster’. But Westerling didn’t kill my grandfather. If he did, there would have been no me, and I never would have heard about my father’s pride in his Bugis-Indonesian heritage.
The reason why Westerling didn’t kill my grandfather is still a mystery. I sometimes imagine, Westerling was moved by the glance of my grandfather’s eyes. My grandfather had something that Westerling didn’t have, that is a sense of belonging to a homeland.
Because of people like my grandfather, and all of who fought for Indonesian independence, I now can proudly call myself an ‘Indonesian’. Thus, being an Indonesian is a blessing, it is destiny’s will, history’s will. And that is the main reason I am willing to join Histori Bersama.