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Marinus Plantema Foundation

 

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About Marinus Plantema Foundation
Financial grants
Criteria & conditions
Financials
Privacy Statement
   
 

Supported activities

Heritage in Transition
Research Study on Raden Ajeng Kartini
VOC National Archives
   
 

Testimonies

Testimony - by Simon Kemper
Testimony - by Bagus Gede Krishna
Testimony - by Brigitta Isabella
Testimony - by Astuti Pitarini
Testimony - by Mira Asriningtyas
   
 

For further information please contact
Robert J.Quarles van Ufford,
the Secretary of the Foundation:

Jan van Gilselaan 4
2102 CX Heemstede
The Netherlands

E info@marinusplantemafoundation.nl


 

 

 

Testimony - by Brigitta Isabella

What does it mean to decolonize? Democracy and the Others of Europe.

 


For 2,5 week in summer 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in Middleburg Decolonial Summer School, which was hosted by University College Roosevelt and organized by Center of Global Studies and the Humanities, Duke University.



The topic of the summer school’s 9th iteration was “What does it mean to decolonize? Democracy and the Others of Europe.” The topic is intriguing for me, as someone who has been working as a cultural practitioner in Indonesia, and who believes that artistic method could be used to contribute to the participatory process of democratization. Democracy, as I learned and continue to be learning about it, should not be taken for granted as the Western product of civilization. Rather, it is a praxis of living in harmony that has a plenitude of narratives from different contexts. Decoloniality, as a discourse, provides us with analytical tools to undo the imposition of Eurocentric forms of governmentality to the rest of the world, and encourages us to look at alternative modes of living together that are silenced by the unjust global capital order. Decoloniality understands that coloniality is not just a historical fact, but also on-going hegemony that still controls our everyday lives. However, decoloniality as I understand it, does not navigate in a simple antagonistic binary between the colonizer and the colonized, because such binary itself is a product of colonialism. The discourse complicates the dynamic power relations at play in the borderland of gender, race and class order, and suggests for collaboration and intersectional solidarity to heal the colonial wound.

Decoloniality is not merely a new intellectual trend, but rather a praxis of social movement. Theory should be tested and contested with practice. Therefore, what I found valuable in the Middleburg summer school is that studying the process was not only happening inside the class room through theoretical rhetoric. There were also opportunities for the summer school participants to go in the “field” and gain knowledge from the city itself. Middelburg is particularly a perfect location for decolonial study, because the city was one of the main locations of Dutch slave trading business in the past. Five minutes-walk from the boarding house where I stayed during the summer school, there is Zeeland Archive and library which collects and does research on this colonial past. In 2005 a slavery monument has been set up by inhabitants of Middelburg, to remind us with this dark history. The summer school arranged various visits and talks with the inhabitants of Middelburg to engage in discussions about forms of activism that many people in Middelburg have been working towards better social life for everyone in the city, be it on the level of everyday interaction or on a wider scale of institutional practice. I am particularly impressed when the summer school participants were invited to engage in Keti Koti commemoration, which celebrates the abolishment of slavery, July 1, 1863.

With the advancement of Internet and relatively many open access academic articles available online, decolonial theory actually can be studied independently. The summer school was not only about studying theory. I gained new knowledge and friendship through my interactions with inhabitants of Middelburg and other students of the summer school that come from various backgrounds. It was a memorable and inspiring experience, which encourages me to think what I can do in the future to take part in decolonial praxis that navigates in my own context. I am grateful that Marinus Plantema Foundation had accepted my grant proposal and enabled me to take part in the summer school. Marinus Plantema Foundation has supported collaboration and exchange for students to nurture links between Indonesia and Netherlands, and I believe such enterprise is necessary to contribute for better understanding of our shared, and painful history.