Jan 20, 2018 Last Updated 3:31 AM, Jan 6, 2018

Planning Jakarta


Julie Shackford-Bradley

In this book, Abidin Kusno examines trends in architectural design and urban planning in Jakarta over the 20th century that resulted in the 1998 riots. Kusno's objectives are to show how 'imagined community' takes concrete form and substance in the 'real' spaces of the city' in order to understand the ways in which postcolonial cities alter the space and form of the built environment for themselves, in the process, forming a dialog with their colonial past. As a representation of that dialog, Jakarta exposes its blind spots. Kusno argues that Jakarta's architects and urban planners have struggled with legacies of the colonial mind-set, particularly the 'tradition vs. modernity' construct used deceptively by both the Sukarno and New Order governments in their quest for power. The results have been disastrous for Jakarta's underclass.

Kusno contends that, while Sukarno promoted Jakarta's post-independence design in terms of 'modernist' nationalism, the downtown area was discreetly modelled on elements of aristocratic Javanese power and grandeur. Display models of the city's master plan simply ignored the kampung (lower class areas), as did Sukarno's urban policies.

Suharto's equation of nationalism and the 'traditional' was just as inconsistent. The New Order saw the emergence of an upper class with transnational dreams of 'First World' style housing developments and culture. Motivated by a fear of falling in status, this upper class elevated itself, literally, through the creation of fly-overs (elevated highways) that build up confidence leaving behind the 'lower' classes who are routed through the crowded street at ground level. Through transmigration, the becak (pedicab) removal program, and Petrus, (mysterious shootings), the urban street was further transformed into a site of disturbance and criminality. Now nationalism was linked with development and the mass media announced the birth of a new ideal middle class subject of the nation. Meanwhile, the underclass was degraded into a mass of 'undesirables'; excluded from the new nationalism, they had no overarching affiliation and nothing to lose in 1998.

These issues are familiar, but benefit from Kusno's analysis of their spatial aspects. The book also presents a discussion of tropical architecture, from both the colonial period (featuring the buildings of Thomas Karsten and Henri Post) and the present (Sumet Jumsei's 'water-based' cultures, and Ken Yeang's bioclimactic skyscrapers) that blend local/traditional and modernist elements. Through such examples, Kusno projects a hopeful vision for the future in which more Indonesian architects and urban designers can practice this type of fusion, once freed from the colonial mindset that still constrains them.

Abidin Kusno, Behind the Postcolonial: Architecture, Urban Space, and Political Cultures in Indonesia, London and New York: Routledge, 2000

Julie Shackford-Bradley (julie_shackford-bradley@csumb.edu)

Inside Indonesia 72: Oct - Dec 2002

Latest Articles

Review: Identity and pleasure, on screen

Jan 06, 2018 - FADJAR I THUFAIL

Source: Cinema Poetica

Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture invites us to embark on a visual journey of difficult episodes in Indonesian history

Essay: Masked but not hidden

Dec 04, 2017 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

Credit: Erlinawati Graham

A small museum in Java is preserving a storytelling tradition, and the thoughts and feelings behind it

Essay: Getting to know you through a pendopo

Nov 13, 2017 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

A look at the journey and contribution of a longtime Australian teacher and researcher of Indonesian Studies

When a history seminar becomes toxic

Nov 02, 2017 - SASKIA E WIERINGA

Attacks on a meeting of survivors of 1965 and their supporters at the offices of the Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta in September 2017 do not bode well for human...

Facing history

Oct 18, 2017 - ELSA CLAVE & ANDY FULLER

Credit: http://www.tribunal1965.org

A witness account of the 2015 International People’s Tribunal on 1965

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

Readers said:

  • Marriage denied
    Sayed - 30 Nov
    I am from Pakistan and living in Indonesia and I am refugee here. I have been here a long time for 5 years but still I did not get any answer from ...
     
  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Duncan Graham - 12 Nov
    Thanks for this detailed account - most reports have been superficial. The politics have been done well, but what about the people? I would have ...
     
  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Jose - 11 Nov
    Inciting violence is a purpose in itself - violence begets more violence. Turning a peaceful event into a violent confrontation serves its own purpose ...
     
  • Mining – who benefits?
    uhaibm@yahoo.com - 04 Nov
    This paper has been inspired in relation to the exploitation of natural resources, specifically the coal mining industry. I am doing some research ...

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).