Organized Panel Session
In late colonial Indonesia the proliferation of mountain resorts reflected the European desire for a reprieve from the tropical climate and local culture. In contrast to British and French hill stations in Asia, the mountain resorts in Dutch Indonesia were not semi-annual retreats, but weekend getaways nearby major cities. Their emergence reflected a significant shift in colonial discourse away from the emphasis on assimilation to local circumstances – racial mixing, cultural hybridity, and the indigenization of colonial authority – towards an increased emphasis on modernity as defined by a more European lifestyle – purifying colonial culture racially and culturally from alleged degenerative influences. The location of these mountain resorts was also inspired by nearby natural, cultural, and even ethnographic ‘wonders’ that further served to emphasize colonial superiority. It is no coincidence that many of Java’s mountain hotels could be found nearby ruins from the Hindu-Buddhist era in the island’s history, nearby villages of seemingly primitive and peaceful hill peoples, and often in uncultivated stretches of nature. These were thus spaces where pseudo-scientific concerns over race, civilization, and the environment coalesced to legitimize colonial ideology. However, it will be demonstrated that these were far from ‘tranquil’ spaces, as the presence of local servants and wealthy Indonesian guests continuously challenged these colonial conceptions. Surprisingly, the impact of this history is unmistakable in the present as many of Indonesia’s tourist sites can trace their origins to these mountain resorts.