In 2023 I finished my Research Master thesis at the faculty of Theology & Religious Studies about Kampong Insulinde.
Kampong Insulinde was opened as part of the Nationale Tentoonstelling van Vrouwenarbeid, hosted during the summer of 1898 in The Hague. The ‘Kampong’ was a village built after Indisch example and was inhabited during its entire opening by thirty-seven Javanese people for the amusement of its visitors. Exhibiting people was a large-scale practice in the West that has come to be known as the phenomenon of the Human Zoo.
How can Kampong Insulinde be understood as the incarnated product of Dutch imperialism, feminism and human zoos? This study offers a historical, sociological and anthropological analyis that draws its methods on postcolonial feminist studies as well as intersectional strategies. It evaluates how the rise of the ‘Kampong’ can be understood as the outcome of Dutch colonialism in the Indies, by shedding light on the trade history and genesis of the Dutch East Indies along with the birth of The Netherlands as a nation-state. Furthermore is discussed how human zoos arrive at the crucial moment when humanity is looking for evidence. From merchandise and circus-act it naturally passes on to lab-sample, and intersects the interests of states who need to legitimise their conquests. Kampong Insulinde as the result of a feminist undertaking houses many intersectional conceptions on race, religion, gender and sexuality. The complexities that arrive are extensively discussed through the collection of cross-sectional themed essays.
Thus far, academic research in the Netherlands in regard to human zoos lags behind. The imperial history, the colonial subjugation of the Indies and the atrocities of the slavery-past are just recently finding a place in Dutch public debate. Stories from the past need to be told in order to acquire a consensual understanding about the manner in which the image of the Other has continued to largely structure the collective mind. Human zoos and Kampong Insulinde as a casestudy therefore pose an opportunity for the academy to decolonise.
+31 (0) 6 18 02 60 73