Colonial Ruins in Padang

By Freek Colombijn      The American anthropologist Ann Stoler argues that the ‘ruins of empire’, or ‘imperial debris’, must be studied less as ‘dead matter or remnants of a defunct regime than [in order] to attend to their reappropriations and strategic and active positioning within the politics of the present’ (Stoler 2008: 196). Colonial buildings, and also the selective restoration of them, are often contested by different actors with different interests. Aware of such contestations, Ann Stoler (2008: 201) makes the point that ‘[r]uins are not just found, they are made. They become repositories of public knowledge and new …

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