In Behind the Postcolonial Abidin Kusno shows how colonial representations have been revived and rearticulated in postcolonial Indonesia. Using broad, but powerful themes, Kusno explores how colonial culture is appropriated for the reinvention of a 'new' postcolonial indentity. He traces the discourses of 'Indonesian' identity in architecture at various moments in the history of the nation; the shaping of the nation's political cultures and their inscription in urban space; the role of racial, class and national identity and their relationship to the cultural politics of the nation and the city; the significance of space in the making and unmaking of collective subjectivities, and the formation of 'culture of fear' in the urban space of contemporary Indonesia. This book shows how architecture and urban space can be seen, both historically and theoretically, as representation of political and cultural tendencies that characterize an emerging as well as a declining social order. It addresses the complex interactions between public memories of the present and past, between images of global urban cultures and the concrete historical meanings of the local.
It shows how one might write a political history of postcolonial architecture and urban space that recognizes the political cultures of the present without neglecting the importance of the colonial past. In the process, it poses serious questions about the relevance of contemporary postcolonial theory and criticism for the analysis and understanding of postcolonial states.