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Bloembergen, Prof. dr. Marieke

Marieke Bloembergen is a cultural historian and senior researcher at KITLV, and professor in Heritage and Postcolonial Studies in Indonesian History at Leiden University’s Institute for History. Her research interests concern the political dynamics of cultural knowledge production in colonial and post-colonial Indonesia, in relation to objects, non-human species, heritage practices, art, and notions of (environmental) care, and in their local, inter-Asian and global dimensions. Her current book-project focuses on scholarly and spiritual knowledge networks between Indonesia, India and the West, and the makings of moral geographies of Greater India, 1880s-1990s. Next to that she is developing a new research line dealing with histories, notions, and politics of environmental empathy.

Educated in an interdisciplinary environment, amid historians and social scientists, Marieke Bloembergen allows her research to be guided by the view that culture – including knowledge production on nature – is always also political. She wrote her PhD-thesis on the Netherlands-Indies at the world exhibitions (1880-1931) at the University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam School of Social Science Research, ASSR). As a post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University she wrote a monograph on the social history of policing and violence in the Netherlands Indies. She came at KITLV in 2008 as co-author and researcher of the NWO-funded Cultural Dynamics research program Sites, Bodies, and Stories; the dynamics of cultural heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia – a collaborative program between Free University, NIOD and KITLV in the Netherlands and Gadjah Mada University and the Eijkman Institute in Indonesia.

Her most recent monograph, written together with Martijn Eickhoff, is The politics of heritage in Indonesia. A cultural history (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Bloembergen is also the author of  Colonial Spectacles: The Netherlands and the Netherlands-Indies at the world exhibitions, 1880-1931, (2006). She published a monograph (2009) and several articles on policing and modernity, surveillance and perceptions of (in)security in colonial Indonesia.

Currently, Bloembergen is working on an objects-centred monograph on the history and makings of ‘Greater India’, and the significances this idea has garnered for networks of scholars, theosophists, collectors, pilgrims,  and spiritual activists in Indonesia. In parallel, her research unfolds along a number of connected themes and interests.

Together with scholars and artists in Bandung she is developing a project on countercultural knowledge and political/environmental engagements in a Southeast Asian context. She is co-initiator and project leader of the research project ‘Unpacking KITLV Special Collections. Colonial histories, object biographies, knowledge practices, and local agency’. And she is a member of the interdisciplinary research project of SOAS-University of London, Circumambulating Objects: On Paradigms of Restitution of Southeast Asian Art.

Since 2021, she is editor-in-chief of BKIJournal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania/ Bijdragen en Mededelingen voor de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde.

Selected Publications

With David Kloos (eds.), History and Anthropology 34:5, Special Issue Unsettling Encounters. Sites, Knowledge Exchange, and the Making of Religion in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, 2023.

‘Meditation Matters. The politics and networks of yoga and spiritual reform between Indonesia, India, and the West, 1900s-1970s’, History and Anthropology 34-35: 740-761, Special Issue, 2023.

‘Lush lives. The peregrinations of Borobudur Buddhaheads, provenance and the moral economy of collecting’, IIAS Newsletter 92, 2022.

With Martijn Eickhoff, The politics of heritage in Indonesia. A cultural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

‘New spiritual movements, scholars, and ‘Greater India’ in Indonesia, 1920s–1970s’, Modern times in Southeast Asia, 1920s-1970s, in: Susie Protschky and Tom van den Berge (eds), p. 57-86. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

‘The open ends of the Dutch empire and the Indonesian past. Decolonization, ‘Indic’ knowledge networks, and the problem of heritage across borders’, Oxford Handbook on Ends of Empire, in: Martin Thomas and Andrew Thompson (eds), p. 391-413. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

‘Borobudur in ‘the light of Asia’. Scholars, pilgrims and knowledge networks of Greater India, 1920s-1970s’, Belonging across the Bay of Bengal. Rites, migrations, rights, in: Michael Laffan (ed.), p. 35-57. London: Bloomsbury, 2017.

With Emmanuel Blanchard and Amandine Lauro,‘Tensions of policing in colonial situations, ca. 1850-1970’, Policing colonial empires, in: Emmanuel Blanchard, Marieke Bloembergen and Amandine Lauro (eds.). Brussels: Peter Lang, 2017.

With Martijn Eickhoff, ‘The colonial archaeological hero reconsidered. Postcolonial perspectives on the ‘discovery’ of pre-historic Indonesia’, in: Gisela Eberhardt and Fabian Link (eds.), Historiographical approaches to past archaeological research, p. 133-164. Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2015 [Berlin Studies of The Ancient World 32].

With M. Eickhoff, ‘Exchange and the protection of Java’s antiquities; A transnational approach to the problem of heritage in colonial Java’, Journal of Asian Studies 72-4: 1-24, 2013.

De geschiedenis van de politie in Nederlands-Indië. Uit zorg en angst, Amsterdam: Boom/ Leiden: KITLV Uitgeverij, 2009.

Colonial Spectacles: The Netherlands and the Netherlands-Indies at the world exhibitions, 1880-1931, Singapore, Singapore University Press, 2006.