Department of Global Studies
This article explores post-colonial memories about street traders among individuals who lived in the former colony of the Dutch East Indies. It argues that these narratives romanticize the relationship between Europeans and indigenous peoples. Street vendors are also used to differentiate between periods within colonial and post-colonial history. The nostalgic representation of interracial contact between Europeans and traders is contrasted with representations of other figures such as the Japanese and the nationalist. A recurring feature of these representations is the ability of Europeans to speak with street traders and imagine what they wanted and needed. The traders are remembered as a social type that transgressed politics and represented the neutrality of the economic sphere as a place for shared communication. The article concludes that the figure of the street vendor contributes to the nostalgic reinvention of the colony but is also used in narratives to differentiate between and mark changes across the colonial and post-colonial periods.
Gibbings, S. L. & Steijlen, F. 2012. Colonial Figures: Memories of Street Traders in the Colonial and Early Post-colonial Periods. Public History Review, 19, 63-85. https://doi.org/10.5130/phrj.v19i0.2870.
Cultural History Commons, Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies Commons, South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies Commons
Copyright © 2012 UTSePress and the authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.
This article originally appeared in Public History Review 19 (2012), and can be access at https://doi.org/10.5130/phrj.v19i0.2870.