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Colonial Figures: Memories of Street Traders in the Colonial and Early Post-colonial Periods

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Author(s): Sheri Lynn Gibbings | Fridus Steijlen

Journal: Public History Review
ISSN 1833-4989

Volume: 19;
Start page: 63;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Oral History | Street Traders | Indonesia | Colonial Memory | Key Figures | Colonial relations

ABSTRACT
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.
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