Research Output

Contesting colonial (hi)stories: (Post)colonial imaginings of South East Asia

  This paper seeks to explore the impact of digital technologies upon the material, conceptual and ideological premises of the colonial archive in the digital era. This analysis is pursued though a discussion of creative work produced in the context of an international,
multidisciplinary artist workshop in Yogyakarta, Indonesia that used digital material from colonial archives to critically investigate the ways national, transnational and personal (hi)stories in the former colonies have been informed and shaped by the colonial past. The
analysis focuses on how the artists’ use of digital media contests and reconfigures the use, truth value and power of the colonial archive as an entity and institution. Case studies include: Thai photographer Dow Wasiksiri, who questions the archive’s mnemonic function
by substituting early twentieth-century handcrafted association techniques with digital manipulation; Malaysian artist Yee I-Lann, who compresses onto the same picture plane different historical moments and colonial narratives; and Indonesian photographer Agan
Harahap, who recomposes archival photographs into unlikely juxtapositions disseminated through social media. By repurposing colonial archival material and circulating their work online such a re-imag(in)ing of South East Asia not only challenges the notions of originality, authenticity, ownership and control associated with the colonial archive, but also reclaims colonial (hi)stories making them part of a democratic, expanding, postcolonial archive.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    29 June 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    TR Photography

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    770 Photography, photographs & computer art

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Supartono, A., & Moschovi, A. (in press). Contesting colonial (hi)stories: (Post)colonial imaginings of South East Asia. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies,



photography; appropriation; networked image; digitisation; postcolonialism; social media; repurposing; media convergence; online activism; colonial archive; documentary photography, Agan Harahap, Yee I-Lann, Dow Wasiksiri

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