New: Atelier KITLV podcast series – Sjahrir is here!

If you visit the Banda islands in the Moluccas by boat, the first building you see when walking from the harbor is the Hatta-Sjahrir college. Named after Mohammad Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir, two of the founding fathers of Indonesia, who had been exiled to Banda by the Dutch colonial government in 1936. In 1942, as the Japanese invasion was underway, both intellectuals were quickly returned to Java. In August 1945 Indonesia proclaimed its independence, three months later Sjahrir became Indonesia’s first prime-minister. He played an important role in the early diplomacy of the Republik Indonesia. He was involved in the Linggadjati agreement in 1946 and addressed the Security Council in 1947. In the course of the 1950s Sjahrir slowly disappeared from the power centre. In 1962, Sjahrir was arrested because he was accused of being involved in a failed attack on Sukarno, on January 4, 1962 and sent to Switzerland in 1965 after he suffered various strokes. He passed away in Zurich in 1966.

Sutan Sjahrir is an interesting person. He was educated in the Netherlands, had a Dutch wife, was exiled by the Dutch and in the first years of the independence struggle and was an important and strong opponent of the Dutch colonial regime. Sjahrir had a special affection for children. While in exile on Banda he adopted four children. For a long time his legacy seemed to be forgotten in Indonesia. Recently however Sjahrir made a ‘comeback’. That is what photographer Isabelle Boon observed while working on Banda on her project ‘I love Banda’. There is a Sjahrir youth organization, t-shirts with Sjahrir can be purchased online, and new publications about him has been published.

For Atelier KITLV Isabelle Boon, together with KITLV researcher Fridus Steijlen, will make a podcast series on Sutan Sjahrir. In the podcasts scholars will talk about Sjahrir, as well as people who are delving into his legacy today will explain what Sjahrir means for them. The podcast will explore Sjahrir starting from the Linggadjati conference back into his period in exile and his education, then again back to his contribution for the Indonesian struggle and most important his meaning for today’s youth.

In the Atelier KITLV podcast series ‘Sjahrir is here!’, Isabelle Boon works together with KITLV researchers Fridus Steijlen and David Kloos. Atelier KITLV (Experimental Knowledge in Art, Activism, and Academia) crafts a space for cross-over experimentation between academics, artists, activists, writers, and journalists.

Image by Isabelle Boon: Children from Ambon visit the Sjahrir museum during a heritage school trip, April 2018, Banda Neira.

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