Sunday, February 24, 2008

latent reverie

Requiem for a kampung

These photos were taken in Taman Sari, Bandung. When a toll road between Jakarta and Bandung was opened a fly-over was built to make driving into Bandung more convenient. To make these photographs I walked onto the fly-over.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where the streets have two names...

In this era of globalization – which seems to be a paradox at first – identity is an important part of contemporary politics. In Indonesia this is amplified due to decentralization. I took the photo above in Bandung (merdeka means independence, i.e. independent from colonial powers such as the Netherlands); the street signs of the main roads have been replaced for bi-lingual ones – silly identity politics (the second language is Sundanese; but irony: the model on the billboard is miss universe). Identity is a complicated matter. And identity matters. Identity matters for the way we are, think, and act. The Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen wants to make clear in his latest book ‘Identity and Violence’ that nations are not diverse because they are federations of peoples, each nation, on the other hand, is a collection of individual citizens and each individual inhibits a wide range of identities. Sen writes that he “can be, at the same time, an Asian, an Indian citizen, a Bengali with Bangladeshi ancestry, an American or British resident, an economist, a dabbler in philosophy, an author, a Sanskritist, a strong believer in secularism and democracy, a man, a feminist, a heterosexual, a defender of gay and lesbian rights, with a nonreligious lifestyle, from a Hindu background, a non-Brahmin, and a non-believer in an afterlife (and also […] in a ‘before-life’ as well).” It depends on the context, according to Sen, which part gets focus. No matter how constraint we are by circumstances, we still have to choose and for making choices we need to reason, i.e. to give arguments and justifications. Without reasoning and choosing we are not taking responsibility for our own life. According to Sen, a ‘solitarist’ approach to human identity can have violent consequences (e.g. in Rwanda or former Yugoslavia).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thinking outside the Indonesian box

Following SBY's advice to think outside the box, Terry Collins (his blog: Jakartass; and he just co-authored an excellent intro on Jakarta: CultureShock!) decided to set up a thinking outside the Indonesian box blog. He writes: "As Jakartass, I am asking folk to join in a group writing exercise. [...] I hope that this site will develop a life of its own and serve as a think tank. Who knows, but SBY might even thank us." So far three essays have been published. First, 'If I were Jakarta's Governor' by Thomas R. Belfield (his blog: Jakarta Urban Blog). Second, 'What if no-one owned land' by Miko. And third, my essay 'Holy Cows in the Big Durian' on urban congestion and car ownership.

Friday, February 8, 2008

another new year...

Another new year - Imlek - now year of the rat. Good thing this country celebrates four times a year the coming of a new year (Muslim, Christian, Chinese and Hindu). Four times a year a clean slate is no luxury but a basic need.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Us and Them

We like to watch for hours at our monkeys. And they, they like to stare in return. In amusement. In bewilderment. Glances exchanged. Laughing at one and another. We point our finger. We wonder, what are they doing? Playing with their own shit? Good thing they don't have CNN in the zoo. (This photo is taken in the Schmutzer Primate Center, Ragunan Zoo, South Jakarta.)