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Virtual symposium on “Contested Collections: Grappling With History and Forging Pathways for Repatriation”

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A virtual symposium taking place 17-19 May 2022, organised by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Library, aims to examine the complicated histories of cultural heritage collections, the expropriation of artifacts through colonialism and looting, the ethics of ownership and restitution, and decolonization in libraries, archives, and museums.

Repatriation has increasingly become an important topic in the museum, anthropology, and archaeology worlds, yet it is but a blip on the radar in library and archive circles. In conjunction with its return of Judaica items to the Jewish Museum in Prague (JMP), the UCLA Library’s International & Area Studies Department is hosting an online symposium featuring international experts, who will discuss the complicated histories of Western cultural heritage collections, the expropriation of artifacts through colonialism and war, the politics and ethics of ownership and restitution, and decolonization in libraries, archives, and museums. Using case studies as the bases for these discussions, the symposium is intended to bring greater awareness of these issues within libraries and archives. It will also be of interest to scholars in anthropology, archaeology, area studies, art history, history, Indigenous studies, information studies, law, and museum studies. 

The symposium will consist of four sessions spread out over three days. The first two panels will focus on the historical roots of the problem and the current calls for rectification. The latter two will focus on existing and potential pathways for repatriation. The detailed program can be viewed online.

Online registration is now open and it is required to receive the links to the sessions. More detailed information on the symposium, speakers, a list of resources and a digital exhibit can be found on the symposium webpage.

EuroSEAS Conference 2022: Call for papers

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Panel: Southeast Asia Libraries between Open Science, heritage collections and ethical standards of custodianship

The 12th conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) will take place at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), on the new Campus Condorcet at Paris-Aubervilliers, France, from 28 June to 1 July 2022.

One of the panels is organised by Marije Plomp (Leiden University Libraries) and Jana Igunma (British Library) on behalf of the Southeast Asia Library Group, hoping to bring together librarians, archivists, area specialists, curators, and researchers. The title of the panel is “Southeast Asia Libraries between Open Science, heritage collections and ethical standards of custodianship”.

Panel Description
The foundations of European libraries holding Southeast Asian heritage collections are found mainly in the colonial enterprise. Both the collections and the accumulated knowledge about them bear the stamp of the values and beliefs of the European, nineteenth and early twentieth century collectors and scholars, whose assignments were inextricably bound up with the mission of the colonial state.
Post-colonial voices from both academia and the broader society have exposed how some of these values have continued to influence the way European libraries manage, describe and present heritage material. As a result, some of these institutions have begun to critically investigate the make-up and provenance of their colonial collections, as well as the manner in which the collections are being managed. These endeavors have given rise foremost to policies directed at bridging the physical distance between heritage collections and the various stakeholders in Southeast Asia. Most libraries have begun taking measures to facilitate access to the collections and academic output through, for example, digitization and digital collections, Open Access institutional repositories, research scholarships and facilities, and online catalogue tutorials, seminars and Open Access e-publications promoting the collections.

This panel wishes to further explore these and other practices that can be taken up by libraries aimed at reducing inequalities related to access to heritage collections and knowledge production, next to other topics related to ethical custodianship. Examples include supporting Open Science and Open Access; opening up the collections for everyone, not just academia; providing free access to primary and secondary sources, independently from language/script, place of publication, peer-review, and format of publication; improving discoverability of material in non-European languages; critical re-evaluation of the language, scripts and standards used for cataloguing; heritage collection crowd sourcing projects; (re)discovery of collections; provenance research and acquisition transparency in the context of data protection and privacy legislation; optimization of the digitization process and projects; ethical issues arising from digitization; opportunities of IIIF (International Image Interoperability Framework); and digital and/or physical re-unification of archives and heritage collections that were split up historically. Papers can discuss theory, practices, cases or policy making.

Paper presentations on any of the aforementioned topics are invited from librarians, archivists, area specialists, curators, researchers and graduate students who are working with Southeast Asian collections. The deadline for paper proposals is 15 March 2022. If you wish to submit a paper proposal, please contact Marije Plomp or Jana Igunma before the deadline.

New issue of SEALG Newsletter

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The latest issue of the SEALG Newsletter has now been published and can be viewed and downloaded freely from our homepage.

It contains the following articles:

  • Nicholas Martland, 1957-2021 (obituary by Pauline Khng)
  • The EFEO in Indochina: A History of Maps and Archives (by Magali Morel and Sovannara Mey)
  • Collecting Information and Artifacts about the South East Asian Peninsula (SEAP) Games 1959 – 1979 (by Lim Peng Han)
  • Malay Manuscripts in Johor (by Annabel Teh Gallop)
  • Burmese dhammasattha manuscripts at the British Library (by Maria Kekki)
  • Illustrated Yogāvacara meditation manuals from Thailand and Laos (by Jana Igunma)
  • Celebrating Peter David Koret’s Intellectual Legacy at the University of California, Berkeley (by Virginia Shih)

Previous issues of the electronic newsletter which covers all aspects of Southeast Asian librarianship, curation, collection, custodianship and research can be accessed on the SEALG homepage.

Publication of ‘Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka’ (MST) Series reaches 20-year milestone

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The Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL) celebrates 20 years of publishing its Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series, published jointly with the Lumbini International Research Institute (Lumbini, Nepal).

FPL is a non-sectarian organization that supports the preservation and study of the Buddhist literature of Southeast Asia. FPL aims to preserve Buddhist manuscripts and make them available through replication. Founder and curator Peter Skilling is one of the leading scholars of the Buddhist history and literature of South and Southeast Asia. He reports that, with the help of a grant from Khyentse Foundation, FPL was able to publish more volumes of the series Material for the Study of the Tripitaka this year. The seventeen titles of this series (listed below) that have appeared to date are original studies of Pali and other texts that have never been published before.

Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series. Image courtesy of Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL)

Vol. 1 Peter Skilling and Santi Pakdeekham, Pāli Literature Transmitted in Central Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2002.

Vol. 2 Peter Skilling and Santi Pakdeekham, Pāli and Vernacular Literature Transmitted in Central and Northern Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2004. 

Vol. 3 Olivier de Bernon, Kun Sopheap, Leng Kok-An, Inventaire provisoire des manuscrits du Cambodge. Première partie, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2004.

Vol. 4 Santi Pakdeekham, Jambūpati-sūtra. A synoptic romanized edition, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2009. 

Vol. 5 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Skilling. Buddhism and Buddhist Literature of South-East Asia. Selected Papers, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2009.

Vol. 6 Claudio Cicuzza, A Mirror Reflecting the Entire World. The Pāli Buddhapādamaṅgala or the “Auspicious Signs on the Buddha’s Feet”. Critical Edition with English Translation, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011. 

Vol. 7 Petra Kieffer-Pülz, Sīmāvicāraṇa. A Pali letter on monastic boundaries by King Rāma IV of Siam, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011.

Vol. 8 Santi Pakdeekham, Piṭakamālā. ‘The Garland of the Piṭaka’, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2011.

Vol. 9 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 1, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2014.

Vol. 10 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 2, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2014.

Vol. 11 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), Peter Nyunt. A Descriptive Catalogue of Burmese Manuscripts in the Fragile Palm Leaves Collection. Volume 3, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2015.

Vol. 12 Daniel Stuart, The Stream of Deathless Nectar. The Short Recension of the Amatarasadhārā of the Elder Upatissa. A Commentary on the Chronicle of the Future Buddha Metteyya with a Historical Introduction, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2017.

Vol. 13 Santi Pakdeekham, Tāṃrā Traipiṭaka. A Handbook of the Tipiṭaka, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2017.

Vol. 14 Claudio Cicuzza (ed.), “Katā me rakkhā, katāme parittā”. Protecting the protective texts and manuscripts. Proceedings of the Second International Pali Studies Week. Paris 2016, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2016.

Vol. 15 Olivier de Bernon, Kun Sopheap, Leng Kok An, Inventaire provisoire des manuscrits du Cambodge (2ieme partie), Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2018.

Vol. 16 Santi Pakdeekham (ed.) History of Pali Scriptures: Sangitiyavamsa by Somdet Phra Phonnarat, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2021.

Vol. 17 Santi Pakdeekham (ed.), The Painted Catalogue of Pali Literature: Uposatha Hall of Wat Thong Nopphakhun, Bangkok, Materials for the Study of the Tripiṭaka, 2021.

Volumes 16 and 17 were published in 2021, the latter beautifully illustrated, to enrich our knowledge and understanding of the Pali literature of Thailand and the history of the Pali scriptures in general.

Volume 17 of the Materials for the Study of the Tripitaka (MST) Series, published in 2021. Image courtesy of Fragile Palm Leaves Foundation (FPL)

The 20-year milestone is not an excuse to slow down FPL’s activities though. Santi Pakdeekham and Peter Skilling are currently working on a volume that contains the Pali texts of several historical works, or “biographies”, of important Buddha images. Another volume is being prepared by General Editor of the series, Claudio Cicuzza, which contains an edition of a Pali text called Vajirasarasangaha by Javier Schnake (Paris). Both volumes will contribute to our knowledge of the little-known Pali texts of Southeast Asia, and, like all previous volumes of the series, these will be valuable additions to research libraries and collections of Southeast Asian Buddhist material across the world.

EuroSEAS Conference 2022: Call for Panels

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The European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) will hold its 12th conference at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), on the new Campus Condorcet, Paris-Aubervilliers, France, from 28 June to 1 July 2022.

EuroSEAS invites scholars and PhD students from all academic disciplines with an interest in Southeast Asia to submit panels that explore relevant research topics from an interdisciplinary perspective as well as discuss theoretical and methodological aspects of research generated in the field of Southeast Asian Studies.

Proposals are invited for classical panels, roundtable discussions, laboratories that would develop cross-disciplinary collaboration, and for screenings with academic discussion of documentaries or artistic movies on various topics from Southeast Asia. More experimental formats are also welcome.

The deadline for sending proposals for panels, roundtable discussions, laboratories, screenings with academic discussion or alternative formats (for example book forums) by email to euroseas@kitlv.nl is 3 December 2021. The selection committee preserve the right to advise on how to strengthen less clearly articulated proposals or on possible merges of similar panel proposals.

For more detailed information, please consult the EuroSEAS website or email your inquiry to euroseas@kitlv.nl.

NACIRA Virtual Conference 2021

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The annual conference of the National Committee for Information Resources on Asia (NACIRA), UK, is taking place virtually on 30 November 2021, 13:00-17:00. The conference theme is “Lessons and reflections: new ways of working in the pandemic era“.

Talks and paper presentations on the day include:

“Research Libraries and Public Engagement: A new future?” by Christopher Burgess, Head of Exhibitions and Public Programmes, Cambridge University Library

“Working in Pandemic Times: the Digital Scholarship Perspective” by Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert, Digital Curator, Asian and African Collections, British Library

“The Endangered Archives Programme – Responses to a Pandemic” by Sam van Schaik, Head of the Endangered Archives Programme, British Library

“TEA and TEI: How I survived Lockdown” by Alasdair Watson, Bahari Curator of Persian Collections, Bodleian Library

“Hebrew Manuscripts Exhibition” by Ilana Tahan, Lead Curator Hebrew and Christian Orient Collections, British Library

NACIRA was established in March 2008, the direct successor to NCOLR (National Council on Orientalist Library Resources) which was itself a development from the U.K. Standing Conference of National and University Libraries Advisory Committee on Orientalist Materials (SCONUL ACOOM).

Its objectives are to provide a general forum for librarians, archivists and researchers involved in the collection, development and use of library resources and services for Asian and Middle Eastern studies; to promote and improve access to these resources; to liaise with and encourage co-operation between the various library groups concerned with particular regions of Asia; and to promote contacts with similar organisations outside the UK.

All members of Regional Library Groups reporting to NACIRA, including the Southeast Asia Library Group (SEALG) have automatic membership. For more information and registration, please contact the NACIRA secretary via the group’s contacts page.

Two early 19th-century Malay documents

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Among the most important source of information on the workings of traditional Malay states are decrees and commands issued at various levels of the administration.  Unfortunately, compared to the thousands of Malay diplomatic and royal epistles found in archives today, very few official Malay documents are known to survive.  It is because of the rarity of such documents that two early 19th-century Malay documents from Cabau, Melaka have recently been published (with full transliterations and English translations), even though these are not known from original manuscripts, but only from transcriptions made by C.O. Blagden in 1894 or shortly thereafter. 

C.O. Blagden, the first lecturer in Malay at SOAS, University of London.  Source: Wikipedia.

Charles Otto Blagden (1864-1949) served in the civil service in the Straits Settlements from 1888 until 1897, when he returned to England.  When the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) was founded at London University in 1916, Blagden was appointed as the first Lecturer in Malay in 1917, and stayed at SOAS until his retirement in 1935.  Held in SOAS Library today are several volumes of manuscript notebooks by Blagden containing copies of Malay texts, and notes on Malay matters.  In one of these volumes (MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 31v-33r) are copies of two early 19th-century Malay documents, described by Blagden as follows:

Two chops belonging to the Penghulu of Chabau

These two chops were copied at the house of Penghulu Sulong Arin of Chabau, to whose ancestors they had been granted by the Dato’ Temenggong of Muar who at that period claimed and in fact exercised jurisdiction in a part of what is now Malacca Territory.  It will be noticed that the chops make no reference to any duties except that of keeping up the worship of the Mosque.

Today, Cabau is a small village in the state of Melaka, situated on the upper reaches of the Kesang river. In  the early 18th century, the valley between the Kesang and Muar rivers was granted by Sultan Abdul Jalil Syah of Johor (r. 1699-1717) to a Johor noble, whose heirs bore the title of Temenggung Paduka Tuan of Muar.  The two documents from Cabau discussed here date from 1820 and 1821/2, and were issued by the then Temenggungs of Muar to the Pengulu (headman) of Cabau, commanding him to ensure that communal prayers (sembahyang berjemaah) were held regularly (on Fridays and feast days), and stating the fines to be imposed for non-compliance. 

The two documents, written in Malay in Jawi script, have been copied very carefully by Blagden, who noted that he had preserved all anomalies in spelling that he encountered, and who also presented Romanised versions.  The first document is a copy of a sealed commission (cab) issued by Sayid Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to the Pengulu of Cabau, dated 3 Jumadilakhir 1235 (18 March 1820), instructing the Pengulu to uphold communal prayers.  The Temenggung warns that transgressors will be regarded as having perpetrated treason against God and the Prophet, while aristocrats (segala raja-raja Islam) are specifically warned that if they do not join in the communal prayers, then religious officials will not hold prayers on their death, or at the nuptials of their kin, or at births or family events.  The second document, which was clearly in poor condition when Blagden saw it, with losses of text, is a sealed commission (surat ecap) issued by Datuk Engku Alna, Temenggung Paduka Tuan of Muar to Datuk Dalim of Cabauh, 1237 (1821/2), with similar contents. 

On the right-hand page, a Jawi copy made by C.O. Blagden of the sealed commission (cab) issued by Sayid Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to the Pengulu of Cabau, 3 Jumadilakhir 1235 (18 March 1820), with Blagden’s Romanised transliteration on the left-hand page.  SOAS MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 31v-32r
Jawi copy made by C.O. Blagden of a document (surat ecap) issued by Datuk Engku Temenggung Paduka Tuan to Datuk Dalim of Cabauh, 1237 (1821/2), with a copy of the seal, and with a Romanised transliteration on the left-hand page.  SOAS MS 297495, Vol. II, ff. 32v-33r

Despite not being original manuscripts, the careful copies made by Blagden of two early 19th-century Malay documents from Cabau are able to yield considerable information on aspects of daily life in the region under the jurisdiction of the Temenggung of Muar.  These documents show that the enforcement of Islamic law was regarded as a core responsibility of the royal Malay courts and their provincial representatives, yet also serve to highlight areas of concern, such as a lax attitude to communal prayers in Muar-Kesang.  The Cabau documents thus play a valuable role in confirming the centrality of the regulating of Islamic practice in traditional Malay governance on the west coast of the peninsula, in a period just before the era of high colonialism.

References:

Annabel Teh Gallop, Two early 19th-century Malay documents from CabauPendeta, 2021, 12 (1): 22-34.

M.C.Ricklefs, P.Voorhoeve and Annabel Teh Gallop, Indonesian manuscripts in Great Britain: a catalogue of manuscripts in Indonesian languages in British public collections. New Edition with Addenda et Corrigenda. Jakarta: Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia, Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia, 2014. 

R.O. Winstedt, The Temenggongs of Muar.  Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1932, 10.1 (113): 30-31.

By Annabel Teh Gallop (British Library, London). Contact annabel.gallopATbl.uk

Chevening Fellowship “Manuscript Textiles in the Southeast Asian Collections” at the British Library

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Open for applications until 2 November 2021

During the curation process of a major exhibition on Buddhism at the British Library in London (October 2019 – February 2020), an unexpected number of manuscript textiles in the Southeast Asian Collections came to light. These are textiles that are used to wrap around manuscripts to protect them from damage and dust, but also textiles that contain information about manuscripts, bags for the storage and transport of palm leaf manuscripts and textiles attached to scrolled paper books. In most cases, there was no or only minimal documentation and cataloguing data available for these textiles. To improve the catalogue records and to research these rare manuscript textiles, a one-year Chevening Fellowship project will be starting in September 2022.

This Chevening Fellowship is open to candidates from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand who have a degree or work experience in a subject relevant to Southeast Asian textiles and/or Southeast Asian manuscript cultures. The project provides an opportunity to survey, assess and research these under-researched and often fragile Southeast Asian manuscript textiles, in order to provide comprehensive catalogue records and to help plan and inform future conservation work, as well as public engagement in form of a publication or curating a small public display.

More detailed information and direct access to the online application process can be found on the Chevening website.

Palm leaf manuscript, containing the Malalankara (Life of the Buddha), with a hand-woven inscribed binding tape and a wrapper made from imported printed cotton. Burma, 1883. © British Library, Or 16673

Call for Papers now open for National Libraries Now 2021: International Perspectives on Library Curation

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National Libraries Now 2021 Digital Conference

Closing date 19 June 2021

National Libraries Now 2021: International Perspectives on Library Curation

Digital conference 16 – 17 September 2021

National libraries are responsible for collecting and preserving the published output of their countries and international publications of research interest, with library professionals tasked to build and promote these cultural heritage repositories of knowledge and creativity. However, curatorial roles within these institutions face unprecedented change in what is considered national heritage, the digital availability of collections, and an increased focus on social responsibility.

Bringing together professionals from national libraries worldwide, this conference will explore the state of national library curation now, interrogating the complex challenges we face in building and interpreting collections, and the practical approaches that are being taken to address them. What does it mean to work in a national library now? What new possibilities are there for international collaboration? We will be especially interested in addressing…

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API: An Indonesian Journal of the late 1960s–1970s from Albania

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The Library of Southeast Asian Studies at the University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt recently catalogued two Indonesian leftist journals both entitled “API – Api Pemuda Indonesia” (‘Flames of Indonesian Youth’) which were published in Tirana in Albania from the 1960s onwards. Actually, two different editions of API were issued, one in the Indonesian language, the other in English and/or French, both with differing contents and separate volume counting. Both magazines were closely related to the Indonesian Communist Party and its exiles in Albania.

The 30 September Movement in 1965 marked the end for the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and at the same time saw the tragic decline of Soekarno’s power and influence and the rise of Suharto as the president of Indonesia. The alleged coup and the allegation of PKI’s involvement in it became Suharto’s means of strengthening his position as the commander in chief by ordering the disbandment of PKI, which soon was followed by one of the biggest genocides in modern history[i].

Fig. 1 First issue of API (Indonesian edition) available in Frankfurt: Volume 10, Number 5, May 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]
Fig. 2 First issue of API (English/French edition) available in Frankfurt: Volume 6, Number 1, 1973 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]

Various reports have stated that hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and most of them were PKI members or affiliated with PKI. The fact that its top officials were killed, sentenced or sent to concentration camps all over Indonesia really crippled the PKI, a once enormous power to become pariah in Indonesia for the next few decades even after its disbandment. However, not every member of the PKI would have met the same fate. Some of them were spared from Suharto’s rage, though at the expense of their citizenship. After 1965, there were many Indonesians who were stranded in various countries and unable to return to Indonesia for if they dared, they would have faced great danger and probably death.

One of the Indonesian exile clusters was in Albania (van der Kroef 1973). Little is known about this particular cluster, except some fragmentary notes in the Yearbook of International Communist Affairs and a short online entry in Wikipedia (Indonesian Communist Exiles 2021). However, during the 1970s they were quite active in publishing propaganda materials against Suharto. The Library of Southeast Asian Studies has in its collections 19 regular Indonesian editions and 24 bilingual (English and French) editions of the journal API – Api Pemuda Indonesia which were published by Indonesian exiles living in Tirana. So far no research about Api Pemuda Indonesia seemed to have been conducted. It is not clear whether nobody has written something about it or whether these Indonesian publications simply went unnoticed. Only a handful of libraries in the world listed API in their collections, namely University Library Johann Christian Senckenberg in Frankfurt, Cornell University Library, University of Michigan Library, University of Sydney Library, Monash University Library, Leiden University Library, and the Library of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. Besides the regular editions, the Library of Southeast Asian Studies also keeps some special editions which were published to commemorate some special occasions.

Fig. 3 API (Indonesian edition), Volume 10, Number 11, November 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]
Perbandingan antara Bulap (Busung lapar) dengan Bulog dan Bulldog (“Comparison between Bulap with Bulog and Bulldog”).
BULAP: Busung lapar (Kwashiorkor/Hungry oedema); BULOG: Badan Urusan Logistik (Indonesian Bureau of Logistics, responsible for food distribution and price control). The figure with “Bulap” represents the many Indonesians who lived in poverty. The figure with “Bulog” looks like Suharto wearing the military uniform, but the US and $ signs mean that the Indonesian government was backed by the US government. The dog probably represents those who supported the Indonesian government. For giving their support to the Indonesian government they could get better resources, here represented by the milk can (susu) with a label symbolising the US flag.

According to journalist Martin Aleida who interviewed Chalik Hamid, an ex-Indonesian student in Tirana[ii], API was started by Anwar Dharma, an ex-correspondent of Harian Rakjat (People’s Daily) in Moscow who was kicked out by the Soviet government due to his critical views towards them (Dharma 1966)[iii]. Anwar Dharma then moved to China and was instructed by the Delegation of the Indonesian Communist Party in Beijing to go to Albania to start there a publication in Indonesian and in English[iv]. After his arrival in Tirana, Anwar Dharma also initiated an Indonesian programme for Radio Tirana.

API has a unique design for its cover: There is a header in red colour with the title of the tabloid written in white, on its right is a hand holding a gun, on its left is also a hand but holding a book. It is interesting that the journal has Marxisme – Leninisme – FMTT written on it. FMTT is believed to be an acronym of Fikiran Mao Tje Tung (The thoughts of Mao Tse Tung). Below the journal title there is an address of the publisher, which is given as “Kutia Postare 1, Tirana, Albania”;the reason why the publishers were using a P.O. Box rather than an actual address is unknown. The title pages have two varieties which can be observed: The first is a title page with table of contents (which is more common, see figures 1 and 2), the second is a front page with an illustration or cartoon (see figure 3) which usually highlighted an important issue that was going to be discussed in the content. When the title page consisted of an illustration, the table of content was moved to the last page of the journal. Both of the Indonesian and English/ French issues held in Frankfurt used the same design for the title page, except one special issue on the death of Mao Tse Tung in English/ French, which was printed in black along with a big portrait of Mao (see figure 4).

Fig. 4 Special issue on the death of Mao Tse Tung, September 1977 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]

The table of contents of all available issues in Frankfurt followed more or less the same pattern. It always started with an editorial which often emphasised one topic which was going to be the theme of that particular issue. After this usually follows an official party statement on some topics. The editorial staff was also aware of the importance of good relationships with communist parties in other countries: this explains why in almost every issue there are one or two pages containing congratulatory statements of somebody’s achievements, or sometimes an obituary of a communist dignitary. Furthermore, there are articles about Indonesia whose contents usually criticised Suharto’s administration and compared it with the successes seen in communist countries. Another interesting part of the journal is a section called Komentar Radio Tirana (‘Commentaries of Radio Tirana’) which provided insights about some particular issues which were trending at that time. In March 1967 Radio Tirana started to broadcast in Indonesian twice a day, therefore it seems likely that this section was a highlight of the broadcasting materials of every month. API also had a dedicated humour section called Bukan Kebetulan (‘Not a Coincidence’) which usually contained satire about Indonesia.

Fig. 5 Special issue to commemorate 30 years of communist Albania, [November?] 1974 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1106]. Of all the issues available in Frankfurt this is the only one with colour printing.
Fig. 6 API (Indonesian edition), Volume 10, Number 12, December 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]

The political ideology of API which was already stated on the title page Marxisme – Leninisme – FMTT is discussed in every issue of API. There is a section called Belajar Marxisme – Leninisme – Fikiran Mao Tje Tung (‘Learning about Marxism – Leninism – Thoughts of Mao’) which usually contains translated works of Marx, Lenin or Mao and sometimes also an analysis of their works. After that, another reappearing feature of every issue is a section which provided short summaries of current news. There are differences between the Indonesian and the English/ French editions though. The Indonesian edition has Berita Tanah Air and Berita Internasional, which consisted of selected news from Indonesia and the international world while the English/French edition only contains local Indonesian news. These current news reported always about negative matters and incidents that happened in Indonesia or non-communist (i.e. “capitalist”) countries, and positive things that occurred in communist states or news about successes in the communist struggles. The last part of the Indonesian language edition is the Kebudayaan (culture) section, where poems, short stories and sometimes essays were published under authors’ pseudonyms in order to guarantee the safety of their family members in Indonesia[v]. In the English/French edition, this culture section is not included and instead contained one or two supplementary articles in French. Another difference between the Indonesian and English/French editions is the mode of publishing: The Indonesian version is published monthly, but the English/French edition bi-monthly. However, their volume counting is not very consistent as there are also several editions from the Indonesian version which was published bi-monthly.

Fig. 7 Special issue to commemorate the communist uprisings in Indonesia in 1926 [November?] 1976 [shelf mark: 84/ZS 1398]

(Article by Prabono Hari Putranto, J.W.Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Library of Southeast Asian Studies. This text is an “offspring” of the author’s ongoing research for a master’s thesis in Southeast Asian Studies at J.W.Goethe-University Frankfurt.)

References:

Aleida, Martin (2017): Tanah Air yang Hilang. Jakarta: Penerbit Buku Kompas.

Dharma, Anwar (1966): Soviet Revisionists’ Shameless Collaboration with Indonesia’s Fascist Military Regime Condemned. Beijing Review No. 42, 14 October 1966, 30–32.

Indonesian Communist Exiles in Albania (2021) (accessed 22 February 2021).

Kroef, Justus M. van der (1973): Indonesia. Yearbook of International Communist Affairs 1973, 469–478.

Melvin, Jess (2018): The Army and the Indonesian Genocide: Mechanics of Mass Murder. New York: Routledge.

Yuliantri, Rhoma Dwi Aria (2007): Harian Rakjat: Di Bawah Pukulan dan Sabetan Palu Arit. Seabad Pers Kebangsaan 1907–2007, 699–702. Jakarta: I:Boekoe.


[i]               For a reasonable account of the events of 30 September 1965 and how Suharto and the military seized the opportunity to take control of the government see Melvin’s argument on the build-up events before the alleged coup in September 30 (Melvin 2018: 3–6).

[ii]              Chalik Hamid was a student in Tirana and one of Anwar Dharma’s first contact persons in Tirana, in fact it was him who taught Dharma to speak Albanian (Aleida 2017: 198).

[iii]             Harian Rakjat was the newspaper of the PKI and was founded in 1951 (Yuliantri 2007: 700).

[iv]             I had the opportunity to interview Chalik Hamid on his role in Albania. Hamid mentioned that it is not entirely correct to say that it was an official command from the PKI as the party was already disbanded. The PKI’s remnants in Beijing at that time, even in the publications of API never called themselves as PKI but as Delegasi CC PKI (‘The Delegation of CC PKI’) (Chalik Hamid, personal communication, 12 February 2021).

[v]              Hamid as the head of the Kebudayaan section mentioned that all of the authors and the members of the editorial staff uses monikers (some of the most frequently used names of contributors are ‘Teguh’ , ‘Kuat’ and ‘Parikesit’) in order to provide cover and to protect the safety of their families back in Indonesia (Chalik Hamid, personal communication, 12 March 2021).


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