Immortalised aesthetics: photography in the promotion of colonial tourism in the Dutch East Indies

If we heard about the record of history, we always refer to the writing. The photographs are just for the illustration, not as primary sources. Perhaps, it could be right because the photographs that are taken, for special purpose. Meanwhile photographs and tourism have a relation. As a promotion medium, photographs (in postcard, illustration of guide book) can attract many tourists.

Before men use the technology of photography in Netherlands-Indies, the using of travelling journal in the early government newspapers such as Bataviasche Koloniale Courant (1810), De Java Gouvernment Gazette (Termorshuizen 1993:10; Termorshuizen 2001), and also Bataviasche Courant (1816), De Javasche Courant (Surjomihardjo et al. 2002:26) attract the public. In the time of King William I, the information about the colony is very important. He sent then not only the experts such as botanicus, geologist, historian to the colony but also the drawer, painter such as C.W.M. van de Velde, A.A.J. Payen to draw and paint the situation in the colony (Van Goor 2000:213) When the first technology of photography came to the Netherlands-Indies in the nineteenth century, it was only used for government purposes and was not yet meant for public consumption (Faber et al. 1988:16) On the other hand, the rise of colonial tourism in the Netherlands-Indies in the early twentieth century required a medium for promotion. Photographs were the right choice because, as the saying goes, pictures could tell more than words. Photographs for colonial tourism promotion were produced in various forms such as postcards, illustration in magazines, and guide books, and were published by the colonial government as well as by private publisher (Sunjayadi 2006). This article discusses the role of photography in colonial tourism in the Netherlands-Indies and its influence in the process to ‘find Indonesia’. This article is also tries to answer the other  question: what kind picture of photographs that were presented and used for the colonial tourism promotion. The sources used are taken from published postcard collection, magazines, guide books, and also published government archives from colonial times (1821-1937)  for further article in Bahasa, please see Jurnal Wacana Vol 10, No. 2, Oktober 2008

photograph: KITLV collection nr 20021

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