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Photography and the making of a popular, colonial monarchy
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Susie Protschky
Public celebrations in the Dutch East Indies (colonial Indonesia) for the House of Orange during Queen Wilhelmina's reign were of an historically unprecedented scale and frequency, regularly attended by large crowds and reported in newspapers. Scholars typically emphasize the leading role of colonial elites in orchestrating these festivals, and the symbolic importance of the monarchy as a conservative institution that bound the colony to the metropole. The agency of spectators and non-elite participants, and the extent to which a popular 'oranjegevoel' (Orange-sentiment) can be said to have existed in the colonies, remains to be demonstrated. This article uses a range of popular photographic sources - amateur photographs in personal albums, and published photographs of the Dutch monarchy in private collections as well as commemorative books - to examine the meanings that ordinary people in the Indies derived from engaging with the House of Orange through images. Susie Protschky argues that, for many Indies residents, photographs of royal celebrations and the Dutch monarchy enabled the cultivation of transnational networks and cosmopolitan identities, and integrated international events into colonial and family histories.