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 decolonial, 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.
“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 colonial 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.
“When I was eight my parents, me and my sisters, migrated to the Netherlands. My father worked for a large Dutch organization and decided to stay here so that his children could enjoy a Western education, which in his eyes was always better than an Indonesian education. Although he may not have been wrong, I have always been amazed at the view that most Indonesians have regarding ‘the West’, and especially the Netherlands. The general finding was that Western Europe would be better than Indonesia because the people are expected to be more civilized and wealthier. I saw this reflected in the submissive attitude that some Indonesian people show (almost automatically) towards someone from ‘the West’, or other people that have just a little more money to spend. This has always fascinated me.
This fascination only increased during high school, when I discovered that colonial history was told in a very different way compared to the education I received in Indonesia. What struck me the most is how little has been written about the Indonesian people in Dutch history books. The original population of the region that the Netherlands decided to call its colony, was exploited and pitted against each other by the Dutch for their own gain. And when I looked upset at my history teacher after his nonchalant attitude about the suffering of the Indonesian people under the Netherlands as a colonial occupier, he shrugged. Eventually, I transformed that feeling of dismay and astonishment, which I experience time and again as I learn about this complex and multi-layered history, into my ambition to tell the story of Indonesia as it is. I express these ambitions in my work as a journalist, and now also in this position as chairperson of Histori Bersama. I do this in order to tell more stories of the (Indonesian) people who do not get the space to tell their story. So that we learn more about ourselves by reflecting on the past. And so that we become better by learning from it.”
Fitria is a freelance journalist and studied Communication and Information Sciences at Tilburg University.
“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 completed a bachelor in Religious Studies and is currently writing her Master’s thesis for Religion and Policy Studies at VU Amsterdam.
“From my mother’s side I have a large family in Indonesia, only later I became aware of the ‘Dutch-Indies’ part of my family background from my father’s side. I grew up without any knowledge of history, so it is not surprising that I hardly knew anything about my own family roots. With my photo camera I started investigating the history from 2002 onwards, I portrayed many Dutch ‘Indo’s’, thus people whose family history is linked to the former Dutch colony in Indonesia. In 2015 I published the book ‘Twijfelindo’ and I am currently trying to start a project about Dutch-Indo people around the globe, capturing their stories. More than ever I think it is important that the history is explained from different angles. I came across the work of Marjolein van Pagee when I heard about her photo-project ‘Kembang Kuning Yellow Flower’, in which she explored the history of her grandfather who was sent to the Dutch East Indies as a conscript. I found her approach interesting because I am also working on projects that try to raise awareness about my personal Indies / Indonesian roots and that of others.”
Armando works as filmmaker and photographer and initiator of the photo- and interview project ‘HoezoIndo‘.