12 December 2016

The Komedi Bioscoop: The Emergence of Movie-Going in Colonial Indonesia, 1896-1914

The dissertation of Dr Dafna Ruppin (Media and Performance) on cinema in the Netherlands Indies from 1896 until 1914 was published by John Libbey Publishing. Ruppin obtained her PhD on this subject in April 2015. Her research was part of the project 'The Nation and Its Other: The Emergence of Modern Popular Imagery and Representations', led by Prof. Frank Kessler. The book was published as a part of the KINtop: Studies in Early Cinema series, of which Kessler is co-editor.

The Komedi Bioscoop traces the emergence of a local culture of movie-going in the Netherlands Indies (present-day Indonesia) from 1896 until the First World War in 1914. It outlines the introduction of the new technology by independent touring exhibitors, the constitution of a market for moving picture shows, the embedding of moving picture exhibitions within the local popular entertainment scene, and the Dutch colonial authorities’ efforts to control film consumption and distribution.

Focusing on the cinema as a social institution in which technology, race, and colonialism converged, moving picture venues in the Indies—ranging from canvas or bamboo tents to cinema palaces of brick and stone—are perceived as liminal spaces in which daily interactions across boundaries could occur within colonial Indonesia’s multi-ethnic and increasingly polarized colonial society.