A history of local activism at Borobodur

Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016

Borobudur is Indonesia’s most famous ancient temple site and also a Unesco World Heritage site. This story tells an inside history of how local communities have lobbied to protect the site from outside commercial interests.

Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016
Borobudur. Source: Inside Indonesia Jul-Sep 2016

The hidden story of Borobudur
Inside Indonesia, Jul-Sep 2016

The local resistance movement, whose lobbying against the mall was eventually successful, used not only conventional demonstrations, such as rallies, but also protests in the form of rituals and art performances. This was to show the government that it was time to stop exploiting Borobudur for commercial purposes and instead nurture the Borobudur that had provided local residents with meaning and livelihoods. Rituals and art performances are an act of giving. Unlike the economically motivated protests in which people demanded their share of the profits gained from treating the temple as a commodity, these cultural protestors voluntarily gave their money, energy and time to maintain the spiritual and social importance of Borobudur. In the controversial arena of cultural heritage management, local groups with strong support are making a robust case: it is time to give the spiritual and ethical basis of Borobudur the respect and attention it deserves.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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