Like so many thousands of tourists before me my visit experience of Indonesia was on a short visit to Bali. I have since visited many other regions of Indonesia, but the "Island of the Gods" still has a strong attraction. Thus it was that when the idea came to me that the Dutch conquest of Bali may be a good topic for an Honours thesis I hastened to prepare for another journey to the island. I planned to see for myself some of the places where important events have occurred. I was, however, not too surprized to discover that many Balinese seemed quite indifferent to their history. One young man said to me "It's only you westerners who are interested in history. We Balinese are interested in the present." The history of the Dutch conquest of Bali, however, is a fascinating story, stretching over centuries, and I was pleased to find that the young man's sentiments were not shared by all the people I met. In Singaraja the librarians in the Gedung Kirtya and the staff of the adjacent tourist office were interested in the history of the Dutch occupation of their island and knowledgeable of the valiant Balinese attempts to prevent it happening. At Jagaraga, the site of a great Dutch defeat, the name of the Balinese leader Gusti Jelantik is still mentioned with pride. At the Goa Lawah near Kusambe the death of the Dutch General Michiels at the hands of the Balinese defenders seemed to be common knowledge. The Balinese have also commemorated major events such as the Puputan Badung and the Puputan Klungkung by erecting large public monuments. Although some Balinese claim to have little interest in their past it is clear that this is not a majority view. The Dutch are now long gone from Bali, but the brave attempts of many Balinese who attempted to stop the Dutch occupation of their island is not forgotten.
|Date of Award||Oct 1997|