Addressing developments in Indonesia since the fall of President Suharto’s regime in 1998, Kusno delves into such topics as the domestication of traumatic violence and the restoration of order in the urban space, the intense interest in urban history in contemporary Indonesia, and the implications of “superblocks,” large urban complexes consisting of residences, offices, shops, and entertainment venues. Moving farther back in time, he examines how Indonesian architects reinvented colonial architectural styles to challenge the political culture of the state, how colonial structures such as railway and commercial buildings created a new, politically charged cognitive map of cities in Java in the early twentieth century, and how the Dutch, in attempting to quell dissent, imposed a distinctive urban visual order in the 1930s. Finally, the present and the past meet in his long-term considerations of how Java has responded to the global flow of Islamic architecture, and how the meanings of Indonesian gatehouses have changed and persisted over time. The Appearances of Memory is a pioneering look at the roles of architecture and urban development in Indonesia’s ongoing efforts to move forward.
Abidin Kusno is Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian Research and Faculty Associate of the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory at the University of British Columbia, where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Asian Urbanism and Culture. He is the author of Behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space, and Political Cultures in Indonesia.