The main activity of the foundation is to translate recent publications from Dutch and Indonesian media that refer to the colonial past and the Indonesian decolonization war (1945-1949.)
We believe that – besides the large distance and the difference in culture – also the language is a barrier that stands in the way of mutual understanding. For the Dutch audience it may be interesting to read how Indonesian articles talk about the colonial past including the Dutch military actions. And vice versa; Indonesians may be surprised to learn about the ideas and sentiments that live among Dutch people when it comes this particular history.
Histori Bersama is officially founded in September 20th, 2016 in Rotterdam.
“An old portrait of my grandfather in uniform triggered me to start a search to his experiences during the Indonesian Independence war. I found out that he joined the Marines in Surabaya between 1947 and 1949. This single portrait encouraged me to start photo- and interview project ‘Kembang Kuning – Yellow Flower’. From 2010 onwards I talked to more than fifty Dutch and Indonesian veterans or witnesses.
Through my several trips to East-Java I came across many different historical perspectives. For the Indonesians, the independence war marked the birth of an independent state. While in the Netherlands, the so-called “police actions” are still a painful chapter that is not easy to close. Me and my Indonesian counterparts started translating articles to share it on social media. We just wanted to give each other more insight what was happening on the other side of the world. The many likes and comments show that both Indonesian and Dutch have an interest to learn more about this difficult past.”
Marjolein is freelance researcher and journalist and is currently following a master Colonial and Global history at Leiden University.
“In colonial times my grandfather was a police inspector in the Dutch East Indies. But I never really heard about his relationship with the Indonesian people. I did hear stories of Dutch people suffering in the Japanese camps, as well as stories about the so-called ‘Bersiap’. However the Indonesian voice was always missing in the stories about our relationship with the colony.
I became curious to the other side and searched for the history of my family in the Dutch East Indies. By this small, personal approach, I also learned about the bigger picture. The Netherlands has a narrow-minded impression of the colonial past, based on pre-war power relations. This image is supported by sources from our (local) governments and companies. I think it is very important to listen to the Indonesian side too, in the end we do have a shared history. Histori Bersama brings together different narratives, and I hope that will lead to a fair and more complete understanding of the past.”
Tineke is a journalist, historian and author of ‘A Dutch police inspector in the Dutch Indies never assimilates.’
“During a six-months stay in Indonesia, I noticed that the understanding of the past in the Netherlands and Indonesia is fundamentally different. Therefore, when I heard about the concept of Histori Bersama for the first time, I was immediately excited. In the past years I learned that there is a lot of misconception between the two countries because of the unawareness of each other’s vision on history. By making translation of articles, the differences in perspective between both countries will come to light. As a board member, I gladly contribute to Histori Bersama.”
Linda is a documentary filmmaker and is currently following a master anthropology at the University of Amsterdam.
“I see The Netherlands is struggling with its own colonial history. In my opinion in other countries the colonial past is already part of the collective memory, while in the Netherlands it is still neglected. I hope Histori Bersama can contribute to a wider perspective of colonial history: perhaps, by looking at the society that had been colonized by the Netherlands, and vice versa, deeper understanding of the colonial past will grow, including the dominant role that the Netherlands played.
Due to my family history, I have a strong connection with Indonesia. My grandparents grew up in the colony and came to the Netherlands after Indonesia became independent. Yet some of my relatives stayed in Java and they are now my direct link to the archipelago.”
Eric is a documentary photographer and recently published the photo book ‘Jalan Raya Pos’; during a 3.500 km bike ride following the oldest road on Java, he searched for remnants of colonial history.