donderdag 16 oktober 2014

Asian Library in Leiden

We saw manypeople, but only few books at the official opening of the Asian Library in Leiden, 15 October 2014. The old theatre inthe Lipsius Building was more than fully booked for the inevitable lecturfes preceding to opening in the library building. Interest in Indonesian and Carribian Studies is still a sentimental affair and this was given 30 minutes for Adriaan van Dis who was born in the Netherlands in 1946 as the only child in a family that had dramatic experiences in Indonesia (the first spouses of father and mother died during the Pacific war; his father worked on the Pekanbaru railway). So, 'it was blood that counts' described Van Dis early society in the Netherlands of the 1950s and 1960s.
After the lecture there was a debate with David Henley, Henk Schulte Nordholt and Elizabeth Pisani, author of a book Indonesia etc. Exploring the Improbable Nation. She commented on the Indonesian Declaration of Independence: not a long and elaborated manifesto but just the fact of independence was mentioned and 'everything else will be regulated later..' bisa diatur nanti..The interest of cultural knowledge is directed towards the contemporary period, not the old books and manuscripts that made KITLV so important, but research on the modern developments. And here we saw a learned trio of people who commented in a journalistic style on the modern development.
The commentators were rather pessimistic about the possibilities for Jokowi, because his economic vision is not so clear and maybe not realistic, considered his weak basis in parliament. And Henk SH said: and still there is economic growth of 5% per year during the last decade!  Corruption: the best way tocombat corruption is to set a good example. Maybe, in fact some things cannot be beaten totally, but restricted, brought under some control.

Ambassador Retno Marsudi had nice words about the 'special relation' between the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Then we moved to the other side of the canal, Witte Singel, following the KILV books that are now in that new building. There was a nice atmosphere, some good food and more even, good people.
 Pram Sutikno, KITLV librarian between 1975-1993, stood in a modest way somewhere in the back row, surprised that watching so many people he had to conclude that he did not know so many people in the big audience. The books will remain, people change: they write new books, mostly taken from the older ones and from their own experiences. I heard that less and less books will be stored in the main building: they must be removed, in order to give more place to people. That is in some respect a nice policy and we trust that we will be able to find and borrow the books.

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