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 concentrations of public declaration.’ This selective reappropriation and active ruination is demonstrated by the Indonesian city of Padang.
In the second week of fieldwork, I came in contact with Lola (23) and Dewi (22)*, two Indonesian friends living in Kuta, Bali. One Thursday evening in January I went for a night out with these girls to their favourite club, Sky Garden.
That morning, I was a bit nervous about my night with the girls, so I send Lola a text message to be sure if we were still on for the night. She responded quickly and told me to meet her at 1 a.m. in front of Sky Garden. Around eleven in the evening Lola sent me a text message asking if I wanted to come over to her place for some drinks. I jumped under the shower, got dressed and looked for her address on the GPS in my phone. It would be half an hour’s drive. On the way I bought some beers for us.