Three Lions Of Batavia Cultural Studies Essay

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Jakarta, in the present day, is a modern city with skyscrapers and modern buildings dominating its vertical and horizontal landscape; millions of cars, motorcycles, and people moving along and crossing the streets signifying the life of the city; and the chorus of the honks of the vehicles, the shouts of the street peddlers, beggars, street musicians composing the rhythm and rime of the city. Then, try to freeze this 'modern' temporality and spatiality and travel backward in time-space to other timelines and spatiality of this city; to the times when this city was known as Sunda Kalapa, Jayakarta, and Batavia -to the time when it was entitled 'the Queen of the East'. As we move along in time and space travel, we will find that this city was created and developed as the hub for cultural, economic, and political transaction across nations, the hub of transnational and global 'cultural flow'. When we unfreeze the time, and look back again to the present timeline, to the current status of the city as one of the modern cities, where can we find that part of historicity and identity brought about by the past cultural flow? Is it frozen, confined, and trapped in the notion and materiality of cultural heritage? Or is it alive and made visible in the cultural practices of the people of the city and embraced as the part of their identity?

The questions led me to follow de Certeau 'walking in the city', and headed to The Jakarta History Museum and Glodok business district, both are located in the Old City of Jakarta. Located at the centre of Fatahillah square; the area of cultural heritage, Jakarta History Museum is the best example of how the collections related to the past and identities of Jakarta are preserved and then how the notions and ideas about this past are narrated and projected toward the present. While, Glodok business district area, which is also an Old China town in this city, provides me with the example of how the notion of heritage and identities are being exercised and enliven by the people in contrast to the narrative provided by 'the official point of view', as this area is the place and space where cultural transaction among people occurs. The result of this flaunerian walk, is these lion pictures [1] 

Figure : The Three Lions

On my curiosity, I 'googled' and found the information about these lions. One article in Wikipedia mentions that:

They are believed to have powerful mythic protective powers that has traditionally stood in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, Imperial tombs, government offices, temples, and the homes of government officials and the wealthy from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Pairs of guardian lions are still common decorative and symbolic elements at the entrances to restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and other structures, with one sitting on each side of the entrance, in China and in other places around the world where the Chinese people have immigrated and settled, especially in local Chinatowns. (Chinese guardian lions)

Two important points I can take from this explanation: 1) the buildings where these lions stand (…government offices, temples…) and 2) the place where they are located (in China and in local Chinatowns). The lions in Fatimah church and the lion dance in Petak Sembilan signify the Chinese heritage and cultural practices that are preserved and practiced by the Chinese ethnic in this city. However, the lions in Jakarta History Museum may signify different reading.

Embedded as the part of the building which was built during the VOC period in this city, the lions to my perception signify the cultural transaction between the Chinese and the Dutch. This also implies, what Bourdieu calls as, 'scheme of perception' and 'appreciation of practices' of the VOC and Dutch colonial authority towards Chinese cultural identity. Contextualized this to the notion of the preservation of cultural heritage and the narrative of history of Jakarta, two questions arise here: How the narrative perceives and appreciates Chinese cultural identity in narrating the history of Jakarta? Does the narrative include this cultural identity into the identity construction of Jakarta?

The questions lead me to revisit the museum, and then try to read the narrative of the history it tells. And this mission leads to the points I try to discuss in this paper. Before I jump off to the points that I am trying to explain, let me sketch some notions influencing my analysis.

Theoretically, my points of argument are indebted to Appadurai's ideas about cultural flow (Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy). In his arguments, he implies that the notion of cultural flow cannot be separated from the context of 'global cultural economy'. He argues that this context moves the flow of five scapes which he terms as ethnoscapes, mediascapes, technoscapes, financescapes, and ideoscapes (51). Another idea that influences me is that his concept about hegemonization and heterogenization. To extend his argument, I use Gikandi's point of view in relating the context of globalization to the context of a postcolonial condition (Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality). My purpose to connect Appadurai's ideas and Gikandi's is that to link the notion of cultural flow to the context of Jakarta in the past which is one important seaport in the constellation of past global order. What I am trying to draw is that what brought the present landscape cannot be separated from this context. I am also much indebted to Bourdieu's ideas about the construction of the social space (Social Space and Symbolic Power ) and to Hall's ideas about identity and cultural identity.

Some travel narratives written by some English travelers during 18th and 19th Century provide me with some information related to the history of the city. I am also informed by books written by Leonard Blusse (Visible Cities) and Jean Gelman Taylor (The Social World of Batavia). Their analyses about the history of Batavia provide me with alternative perspectives compared to the narrative of History of Jakarta narrated in the Museum.

During my second visit on 8 May 2011, I was also informed by Pak Kasirun, an officer at the museum, who acted as my travel guide and informant. As an officer who manages the Collections and Equipment Section of the museum, he gives me some important information about the museum that enrich my perspective in analyzing the place; the museum. While my conversation with Pak Yulus Latif, owner of Warung Kopi Tak Kie (coffee shop), gives an alternative perspective about the history of this city mainly about the Chinese cultural identity and practices.

Lions of Stadhuis: The Speaking Silence and the Silencing Speaking

The questions about heritage and preservation of past cultural practices responded by the local government of Jakarta, through cultural heritage policy dated back to 1970. The cultural conservation zones in the area of Fatahillah square, located in the old city of Jakarta, is the result of the implementation of this policy. Walking around this square, I sensed 'nostalgia for the present' of the colonial time as passing the arrays of old building surrounding it.

Figure Stadhuis/Jakarta History Museum

Central to this square is the Stadhuis, City Hall of Batavia, which now serves as Museum Fatahillah or The Jakarta History Museum. Built in 1710, Stadhuis, had witnessed various cultural practices due to its status as the City Hall. Served as VOC and Dutch Colonial administrative headquarters, Stadhuis was the central for the Dutch authority to exercise power upon the people of Batavia. The centrality of this building continues up to current status as the Jakarta History Museum. As its name implied, the museum is the centre of the narrative for the history of Jakarta.

Built upon the old building and serving the narrative of the present, the Jakarta History Museum is more like the conjuncture of the two spatiality and temporalities. On one side, I faced the silent past confined, embedded, and carved in the architecture and the materials that construct the building. On the other side, I faced the present interpretation of the history as represented through the selection of collection it displays, the arrangement of the collections, and the division of collection rooms. Seeing from Bourdieu's perception, this suggests me to read the objective and subjective construction of realities; in this context, the objective side of the materiality constructed the building and the collections, and the subjective side of the selection, arrangement, and division.

Therefore, this leads me to analyse the narrative on history of Jakarta into two focuses. First, the narrative constructed by the structure of the building which in this context relates to the past time, and second the narrative arranged by selection, arrangement, and division of collections, which relates to the present interpretation about the past.

The First Narrative: The Visible Lions

Built in classic baroque architectural design, the building is in dialogue with the red ceiling, the staircase, the door, the ornate stone floors, and two mythological lions which all of them constructed my perception about the visibility of Chinese cultural identity.

Figure Stadhuis Interior

Pak Kasirun informed [2] me that the combination of red colour and the two lions symbolized "the symbol of fortune because at that time …the building served as Batavia city hall…." and the ornaments of the building including "…the profiles, the doors, …[which]were painted in red" referred to Chinese culture. And then, in response to my questions, he added that the Chinese had come long before the VOC came, and the Chinese were involved in the social orders of the city. In relation to the construction of the building, he added that the borrowing of the Chinese Culture was based on their research on Chinese culture and this relation (Chinese in Batavia and the Dutch), as I inferred from his statement, was also related to the China Emperor (China in the mainland).

What I can draw is that how the flow of technoscape and ideoscape materialized and put in dialogue with the construction of the building. This dialogue shows how the European ideoscapes of rationality and colonialism in conjuncture with Chinese's mythology in signifying the spatial and social distance of 'the colonial world' of Batavia.

In his visit to Batavia around 19th , Worsfold captured this :

Batavia may be divided (like all Gaul) into three parts. First, there is the business quarter, the oldest, where the houses are tall and built in the style still prevalent in the warm countries of Europe, with balconies and verandahs and widely projecting eaves, and where the streets are narrow. Then there is the Chinese Campong, which, with the adjacent streets, occupies the central portion of the town, containing the bulk of the population closely packed in their curious dwellings. And, lastly, there is Weltevreden, the Dutch town, where the officials, the military, and the merchants reside. (33)

What I can relate from his description is that the Chinese was in a 'close' spatial and social distance with the Dutch, as is also implied by the building and the information from Pak Kasirun. It implies that for the Dutch authority at that time Chinese was very important. The importance of Chinese for the colonial world cannot be separated from the context of global trade at that time, as it is also implied by Pak Kasirun by mentioning "there was related to the Chinese emperor". In his analysis about Batavia, Blusse points out that during the VOC time, Batavia was located in the network of inter-Asia trade along with Nagasaki and Canton (5). To maintain the good relation with the Chinese Empire in the mainland, VOC and Dutch authorities in Batavia gave special privileges for the Chinese in Batavia. He shows that:

[c]uriously enough, they provided comparable structures for Chinese institutions, such as the palatial dwelling of the Chinese kapitein (captain) that included an office where he met weekly with the other Chinese officers in town, and the well-equipped Chinese hospital. Directly outside the city walls stood Chinese temples and extensive cemeteries where the Chinese could bury their dead. (39)

What can I draw from this, is that the Chinese in Batavia was placed under the negotiation between political and economic constellation between the China Empire in the mainland and Dutch authority in Batavia. This implies that how the global context influences the local landscapes of Batavia and vice versa. Thus when anything befell with the Chinese in Batavia due to the policy of the Batavia authority, the effect would affect the relation between China Empire and the Dutch.

Blusse mentions that on the account of the massacre of Chinese in Batavia on October 1740 (Chinezenmoord), the interest of China Empire and Dutch colonial authority played its role (41). On one side, the carnage was responded by the removal of Adriaan Valckenier, the Governor General who was responsible for the carnage, from his position, but on the other side "[the China] emperor did not care about his overseas subjects, who generally were referred to as hanjian-traitors or renegades". Two things can be inferred from this account: first, the Chinese in Batavia was not always in a harmonious relationship with the Dutch authority in Batavia, and the Second, the importance of trading relation between the China Empire and the Dutch authority was prioritized despite the interest of the Chinese in Batavia. Thus, it can be concluded that the condition of the Chinese in Batavia cannot be separated from a wider context of overseas trading between China and Batavia.

However, the flow of ethnoscape from China mainland to Batavia cannot be limited only to the colonial context, as actually implied by Kasirun by mentioning that the Chinese had come long before the Dutch of which he did not extend in his next explanation. Explanation from Taylor's book provides me the information about this context. Taylor implies that the flow of the Chinese to this city also took place during the city was known as Jayakarta. Taylor mentions that:

WHEN THE DUTCH NAVIGATOR Cornelis Houtman first put in at Jacatra on 13 November 1596, the town was a minor port lying across the mouth of the Ciliwung River on the northwest coast of Java. Its inhabitants, principally members of the Sundanese ethnic group and numbering several thousands, lived within a bamboo enclosure; there was a small settlement of Chinese traders and arrack brewers outside the wall on the north side. (3)

This implies that the global context of this city was rooted back long before the Dutch named it as Batavia and the Chinese settlement in this city was dated back to this period. Therefore, a line can be drawn here: the landscape of this city always deals with the context of global trade and the ethnoscape; the Sundanese, the Dutch, the Chinese, and any other ethnics brought along by its position as the hub for global trade. However, this perception led me to wonder whether this information was also given and depicted in the narrative of the museum. Before I extend this further, let me go back to the point where I started.

Going back to the point of the dialogue between the baroque and China ornament, what I am trying to relate here is that the construction of the building cannot be separated from the structure of perception and practices of the social space of Batavia at that time; from how the Dutch privileging the Chinese ethnic in social structure of Batavia. The physical and social distance of the Chinese ethnic through the division of city space is brought together in the artistic construction if the building. This constructs the closed-tied relation between the colonial power and the Chinese.

On the other hand, this also signifies the superiority and power of the colonial ideoscape over other ethnics. By selecting and visualising Chinese cultural identity, the building distancing itself from other cultural identities practiced by other ethnics living in Batavia. It seems that the multicultural [3] aspect of this city is silenced and made invisible in the structure of this building. It shows that central and periphery relation structured the social reality of Batavia is represented in the construction of the building. In his report, Worsfold mentions that outside the three divisions of the city "[o]n the outskirts of the town, along the country roads, where the cocoa palm and banana plantations begin, are the bamboo cottages of the Sundanese natives" (35). Thus if a line is drawn from the centre to the periphery, the series will start from the Dutch/European, Chinese [4] , and to "native of Batavia" .

However, how then these 'schemes of perception' and 'appreciation of practices' are narrated in the present narrative of history of Jakarta? This leads my discussion to the next narrative.

The Second Narrative: The Invisible Lions

The establishment of Jakarta History Museum dated back to 1974, following the local government policy on the conservation of cultural heritage around Fatahillah square (1970). Information retrieved from the official website of Indonesia Tourism mentions that:

The Museum of History of Jakarta was inaugurated on 30 March 1974 for being the center for collection, conservation and research for all kinds of objects of cultural property related to the history of the City of Jakarta and at the same time becomes a center for education, study and recreation for the community. (Jakarta History Museum)

What I can infer from this information is that the museum serves as the centre for the narrative of the history of Jakarta and also the centre for community to learn about that history. Pak Kasirun informed me that "most visitors are students, coming from various cities or even provinces". "We refer to the function of this museum as a media for education…so that students can get the information easily", he added.

This implies the important role of the museum in, paraphrasing Bourdieu, "produc[ing] and impos[ing] legitimate vision of the world" (20); legitimate version of the history of the city. Thus, in reading the narrative, I am trying to point out how this 'official point of view' [5] narrates and constructs the perception of reality toward the history of Jakarta. Fortunately, on my second visit to the museum, the museum was peopled by many visitors including a group of elementary school students, so this could provide me with rich observational data of how the museum narrated its legitimate version of the history of the city to the visitors.

Figure Collection Rooms

During my second visit to the museum, I captured the pictures above. The pictures were captured from six collection rooms: Prehistoric Room, Tarumanegara Room, Jayakarta Room, Fatahillah Room, Sultan Agung Room, and MH Thamrin Room. Each room is constituted by collections ranging from material artefact, replicas, pictures, and posters which relate to the periods they refer to. Walking from one room to another room, I felt like I was travelling back in time and space. This sensibility was constructed as the arrangement of the room and the collections refer to the chronological timeline of the history of the city. Pak Kasirun informed me that the collection rooms "refers to chronological [timeline] …which relates to the history of Jakarta…."

The timeline is started from 1) the prehistoric time when prehistoric people flowed some areas of the city, 2) the establishment of Hindu Kingdom of Tarumanegara with the flow of India ideoscape of Hinduism and technoscape of; stone inscription, Hindu's gods and goddess stone statues, 3) the establishment of the port of Sunda Kalapa during the Sunda Kingdom with its position as one important ports in the local and transnational trade, 4) the founding of Jayakarta by Fatahillah and the coming and settlement of the Portuguese, until 5)the heroic story of the Java Sultanate Mataram's army in capturing the city from VOC, and 6) the existence of Betawi ethnic along with their so-called hybrid culture.

From this timeline, I can infer that this city since its beginning is always the landscape of trans-national cultural flow due to its position as important port providing commodities needed by trans-national market. Pak Kasirun showed me that "Indonesia is famous with its spices which at that time were recognized as the best in the European market". However, in contrast with the visibility of Chinese cultural identity embedded in the ceiling and the door of each room, the narrative of the history constructed by arrangement of the collections remains silent about the existence of the Chinese ethnic. The Chinese existence throughout the timeline of the history seems to be suspended and invisible. The existence of China settlement during the Jayakarta period spotted by Cornelis Houtman, or even as mentioned before by Pak Kasirun, is nowhere in the narrative, or even the 'Chinese Kampoeng' spotted by Worsfold. In contrast to this, the narrative captures and displays the coming of the Portuguese and their settlement; of which Pak Kasirun gave very extensive information about this while he remained silent to give or to connect the relation with the visibility of Chinese identity. The question rises here: where is the Chinese?

The answer for this question is located in M.H. Thamrin room. The Chinese cultural identity is embedded in the collection of Betawi ethnic; whom Pak Kasirun referred as "the natives…by the time they were born even until they grow old….". It is married to the wedding costume of Betawi, attuned to Betawi traditional musical instrument, and creolized in Betawi language. Before extending this personification, below, I am going to sketch up some notions about this narrative.

What I perceive from the narrative is that the sequence of time and the constitution of collection in each timeline follow the logic of synchronization and order, which in a way represents the modern sense of time and space. Seen from this logic, each collection is a constitutive unit of a larger structure of signification.

The logic can also be abstracted from the naming of the rooms. The naming of the rooms, in some ways, leads to summarization of selected particular events into one particular representation. What is interesting here is the naming of Fatahillah room, Sultan Agung room, and M.H. Thamrin room. Out of so many events constructed by the collections, they are summarized into one centralized figure. The events during Jayakarta period of this city and the coming of Portuguese are summarized into the centrality of Fatahillah; the events during the invasion of Mataram to Batavia into the centrality of Sultan Agung; Betawi ethnicity into the centrality of M.H Thamrin. Thus, another point can be highlighted in the narrative: the notion of centrality.

So far, there are two points can be argued from the narrative: First, the modern sense of time and space which is represented through synchronization and order; and second, the notion of centrality which is represented in summarization of particularity into one central signification. Seeing from these two points, the selection, arrangement, and division of collections can be read as 'diagnosing, directing, and prescription [6] ' of what people have to know about the historicity of this city. Thus, this notion may lead to exclusion and privileging certain details to fit certain purposes.

This notion can be noticed clearly from the exclusion of Chinese ethnic in most timelines except in the present timeline (M.H. Thamrin room) in its embodiment form. This may imply and construct the sense of 'newness' of the existence of China ethnic in the history of Jakarta, in contrast to the visibility of China cultural identity in the doors, red paint, and ceiling in every room which had already been there before the building served as the museum (pastness). This may imply the erasure of the significant position of Chinese ethnic to the cultural and identity construction of the city [7] . The question rises here: what makes this ethnic excluded from the history?

As it is implied in the reading of the construction of the building, the Chinese was situated in a close-relation with the colonial power and given special privileges. Thus, contextualizing to the concept of nationalism, close-relation with colonial power may imply the threat to the constitution of the nation. However, we should not forget that the Chinese ethnic in this city, in the colonial era, was situated in the ideoscape and financescape of Dutch and China Empire. Thus the 'situatedness' of Chinese in Batavia cannot be separated from this global context. The rebuttal to these arguments may arise: what about the accommodation and translation of this ethnic identity into Betawi cultural identity? The problem with this logic is that the summarization of some particular cultural identities into one cultural identity while excluding and suspending the existence of other cultural identities is just like killing the lion and use its skin as our robe. To extend my argument, I am going to give some sketches below.

The visibility of Betawi in the present timeline can be seen as an act of privileging. Except in the present timeline, this ethnic group is nowhere to be found in the historical timeline, not to mention in the construction of the building. Information retrieved from the official website of City Information Technology Management Office mentions that "the Betawi group emerged in the 19th century from the melting pot of races, ethnic groups and cultures" (Jakarta Now-Culture). The phrase that catches my attention is 'melting pot'.

Melting pot the information mentioned in some ways related to the summarization of many distinctiveness and differences into one new form. This point of view, in some ways, coincides with the official point of view of the Jakarta History Museum in constructing the history of Jakarta. Out of so many cultural diversities constructed along the timeline, the history of Jakarta is concluded in one room, in M.H. Thamrin. These cultural diversities are melted into one new form of cultural identity: Betawi identity, which is in Pak Kasirun's perspective identified as "Ya….the origin..!". Thus, the Bantamese , Sundanese, Chinese, Majikers, and other cultural identities dissolve; the multivocalities and multicultural brought by past cultural flow are translated into one, quoting appadurai, 'homogenization' concept, the indigenization of heterogeneity into one notion of Betawi; people of Batavia.

Out of my curiosity, I browsed the City Information Technology Management Office' website to find out how the official release regarding this Betawi identity [8] besides the official points of view constructed by the museum. Placed in the page related to Jakarta culture, the information mentions that:

As the nation's capital, Jakarta is able to show all the various art forms of all the regions and ethnic groups in the archipelago. And to realize this idea in line with the motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ( Unity in Diversity ), the regional government feels obliged to develop all traditional art forms as equitably as possible with the local Betawi art forms as host heading the rest. (Jakarta Now-Culture)

Based on that information, several points can be argued here. Put in the page about Jakarta culture, this may signify that the culture of Jakarta is referred and attributed to Betawi culture. Nowhere in the narration, does the information explain about other cultures except in their personification and embodiment inside Betawi culture. In its brief explanation, the information leads the multicultural aspect of this city into one summary of "the local Betawi art forms as host heading the rest". The notion of local and non-local can be abstracted here. It identifies that Betawi culture as local while the others as non-local. While, when we try to look outside, not far from where the museum stands, the notion of locality may become a very complicated term.

The Dancing Lion

To find out the unofficial points of view about this history, mainly related to the Chinese ethnic and identity, I enrouted to Glodok Business District. Located around one kilometre from the Stadhuis, Glodok is an oldest business district of the city and is a home for Chinese ethnic. Dated back to the account of Chinezenmoord, Glodok was "a separate Chinese quarter [which]was built outside the town" (41) as notified by Blusse. Connecting this, to the notion of locality referred to Betawi culture and ethnic meets its irrelevant reference.

Figure 6 Glodok Area

My conversation with Pak Latif Yulus, owner of Warung Kopi Tak Kie (coffee shop), provided me with a different perspective in the narrative of history of Jakarta, opposed to what the museum 'projected'. Accompanied by some digitalized Mandarin music and song in the background, boosted from the Hi-fi sound system, Pak Yulus shared his stories about this city and the people who live in it, even he gave the story and myth about the lions that I spotted in the Glodok area and in the Stadhuis.

He warned me that "beware … the lions in the stadhuis are sometimes spotted to be alive in the midnight". He explained that the stadhuis is always haunted by many spirits and ghosts. And, he told me that he has the ability to see those things and the power to exorcize those spirits; the ability that he said he learnt from "the book of Buddha". He then explained that the placement of the lions at the main stairs of the museum was related to "Hong sui, because 'orang-orang bule'(the western people) also believed in it".

From his stories about the lions and stadhuis, I can draw that for him the place is present in the form of mythical and mystical. The way he narrated the stories about the museum, 'routed' back to the ideoscapes of the Chinese mythologies and superstitions. The rationality that is depicted in the construction of the building, through the classic baroque architecture, is interpreted in superstitions. This perhaps, was also the familiar perspective for the Dutch during the construction of the building, as inscribed in the dialogue among the materiality of the museum. This shows that the stadhuis is the result of the cultural transactions between certain ideoscapes which are, then, materialized in certain techniques of construction (European and Chinese) that shape the building.

If the notion of locality is kept in the discussion, it should be referred to this cultural identity; the Chinese, who played important role in shaping the city. Noticing how the Chinese cultural identity is still preserved and practiced by the Chinese in this area, a part from the context of several repressions and violence befell to them; assimilation policy during the old and new regime, 1998 riot, the city is always a home for them; the city is their own sense of place. The city was and is always attached with them, which then notifies the concept of locality.

However, the point that I am trying to argue here, is not to suggest the notion of locality; as the existence of the Chinese in this city cannot be separated from the existence of other ethnics, brought by the flow of the ethnoscape into this landscape. What I am trying to suggest is that the concept of locality should include other cultural identities overflowing this landscape, not in a summarized version personified and embedded in Betawi culture.

The most problematic thing that I am trying to argue here is the notion of locality itself. Locality implies the categorization of, using postcolonial point of view, who is us and who is the other; who is local and who is not local. Related to the museum, this perception is so apparent whether in the structure of the building or in the narrative constructed by the arrangement and selection of collection. For the colonial scheme of perceptions and practices which imply the past sensibility, the Chinese is categorized local and non-local; local in a sense of the privileged, local and non-local in a sense of the different classification compared to other local ethnics.

While, for the present narrative the Chinese cultural identity is localized, quoting Appadurai; indigenized, into the signification of Betawi cultural identity as Jakarta cultural identity. Missing and ignored from both scheme of perceptions and practices is the context of this place, which is never local. From the past until present, this city and its landscapes are always porous for the global context; in other words, this city is always global and globalized.

At some points the narrative constructed by the museum implies the global context of this city. Started from its name as Sunda Kalapa, Jayakarta, until it was named as Batavia, this city had attracted the flow of ethnic, finance, techno, media [9] , and ideoscapes inside and outside its landscapes. However, this context is raptured and suspended in the present perception of this place as implied by the summarization, not to say celebration, of this complexity into the notion of Betawi as the identity of the city.

The logic of this summarization cannot be separated from the function of the museum in creating and shaping the notion of the nationhood, paraphrasing Anderson, to the imagination of the community; to construct the signification that this city has its own distinctive identity and people which are different from other cities, places; while actually the distinctiveness of this city lies on its multicultural aspects, not in its melting pot form as represented in Betawi ethnicity. Appadurai reminds us that "one man's imagined community is another man's political prison" (50); therefore, to release this city from the confinement, it is better to paint it in multicolours by letting the lions dancing along with the rhythm and rime of the city as noticed by Worsfold during his visit to Batavia :

In the centre of the town the native streets look, to the European eye, like a perpetual festival. Outside the doors are gathered in groups the various inhabitants-Chinese, Malay, or Sundanese, some clanging cymbals and other strange instruments of music, others seated round fires, eating baked cakes or fruits and other frugal dainties. (35)

and as the unfinished mural painting (painted by Harijadi Sumodidjojo) locked [10] in the separate room (on the right wing of the museum) pictured:

Figure Mural Painting of Harijadi Sumodidjojo


From the complex sketches above, now I am arriving at some points of arrival. First point: from the journey inside the Jakarta History Museum, there are two points of narrative related to the history of Jakarta; 1) the past perception about the historicity of this city as inscribed in the structure of the building, and 2) the present interpretation of this city as constructed by the selection, arrangement, and division of collections. Both perceptions imply the perceptions of the authority toward social realities of the city; the point of view, in Bourdieu's term, constructed through selection of certain realities, producing realities, and imposing authorized version. Central to both point of views is building perception on the sense of the place which complicates the status of the city as the important port and the people who live in it. The complication is triggered by the conception and perception of local and non-local which at some points put the Chinese ethnic into the 'symbolic struggle' over the place. Chinese ethnic in this city is always situated in conjuncture with the past ideoscape and the present ideoscape. In their 'situatedness', the Chinese are never materialized, as they are always mythicized: whether appear too visible (in the structure of the building/image ) or invisible and mutated into another form (in the narrative of the museum). This context leads me to arrive in my second point of arrival.

Second, connecting the flow of ethnoscape to building perception about the past and the present of the city, two contradictory constructions and significations will emerge. First, if the signification of the city is referred toward a centre to periphery relation, where in the centre is the notion of the indigenous culture referred to Betawi cultural identity and ethnicity, this will result in the marginalization of other cultural forms, which are also inseparable from the landscape of the city. Accommodating and authorizing this constructed scheme of perceptions and practices, as it is implied in the narration of the museum, will ignore the multicultural aspect of this city brought along by the trans-national cultural transaction, which I propose here as the 'distinctiveness' of the city. Second, if the signification of the city is referred to, in Appadurai's term, 'disjunctive relationship' among ethnoscapes and other scapes flowing in the landscape of this city, the distinctiveness of the city may appear; as what binds these seemingly unrelated elements of this city is its context, which is never local.

Thus, this is where I end the journey.