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Arida Yasmin MA

PhD candidate


Area(s) of interest: Asian History, Global History, Modern & Contemporary History, Urban History

Cohort/Start PhD: 2021-2022

Understanding the Historic Urban Landscape: the heritage of the railways and their impact on town planning in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia 1864 – 1949

University of Groningen
Promoto(es): Prof. dr. Cor Wagenaar, Dr Tino Mager
Aanstelling: April 2022

The construction of the railway network in the Dutch East Indies, present-day Indonesia, began in 1864. It reflects the European influence during the triumph of western industrial technology in the nineteenth century and made Indonesia the first rail-dependent country in Southeast Asia. Although first introduced as a tool of empire, the railways soon developed into a reliable means of public transportation. It profoundly transformed the layout of cities and stimulated urban development, including population growth and urban expansion. Consequently, this phenomenon triggered architects and planners to alter the unplanned, unhygienic, and disorderly city into a more coherent, harmonious, and aesthetic one – it led to the gradual modernization of Dutch Indian town planning. Today, the heritage of the railways and their impact on urban planning create the framework for the future development and revitalization of Indonesia’s cities from the colonial periods. This calls for an urban management method based on the assessment of the cultural values of this heritage. The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach provides the theoretical basis – it integrates urban heritage values with sustainable development strategies. The purpose of this project is two-fold: a) to examine the impact of the rail infrastructure on architecture and town planning in the Dutch East Indies between 1864 and the end of the Dutch presence in 1949, and b) to understand the implementation of the railways and spatial heritage values to the current heritage practice, incorporating and adopting the latest developments (notably the HUL approach) in this rapidly evolving field.