Save Borobudur! The Moral Dynamics of Heritage Formation in Indonesia across Orders and Borders, 1930s–1980s

  • Marieke BloembergenEmail author
  • Martijn Eickhoff
Part of the Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context book series (TRANSCULT)


This article focuses on the continuities and discontinuities in the conservation history of the eighth-century Buddhist temple Borobudur in Central Java, Indonesia, particularly in relation to processes of state legitimation, inclusion, and exclusion. It aims to understand how, why, and for whom this temple—which was officially listed as a World Heritage Site in 1991—transformed into heritage throughout regime changes in colonial and post-colonial times. In reaction to what seems to be a state-centred bias in the study of heritage formation, we will demonstrate how the theory of “the gift,” as discussed in the classic work by Marcel Mauss, can be a useful tool to investigate heritage dynamics beyond the perspective of state civilizing missions, state supported heritage agencies, and so-called authorized heritage discourses. We will also seek to understand the moral and material engagements with the temple from perspectives that are not exclusively related to state interests, and which come from within and across the borders of empires and post-colonial states.


Cultural Heritage Master Plan World Heritage Site Japan International Cooperation Agency Indonesian Government 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)LeidenNetherlands
  2. 2.NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide StudiesAmsterdamNetherlands

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