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Data Colonialism in Indonesia. Artist’s Strategies against Digital Colonialism

Project leader:
Stefanie Wuschitz (IKL)

4 years

Funded by:
FWF – Austrian Science Fund | Elise Richter PEEK (V994)


FWF | Elise Richter PEEK Fellow
Stefanie Wuschitz, Institute for Education in the Arts
Duration: 1.11.2023 – 31.10.2027

This arts-based research builds heavily upon "Coded Feminisms in Indonesia" (2021), an arts-based research project by Stefanie Wuschitz and Astrid Reza, which raised questions about a particular women’s movement that emerged in Indonesia in the 1960s and grew to become the largest feminist movement of its time. The Indonesian Women’s Movement had an international impact through its vibrant grass-roots activism, anti-authoritarian pedagogy and influential anti-imperialist and non-aligned position. The movement was criminalized during Indonesia’s New Order Regime, thereafter its legacy is only preserved in encoded form.

Applying feminist new materialist practices this project thinks data colonialism in Indonesia together with anti-colonial struggles of the 1960s. The term data colonialism stands for the appropriation of raw data, which counts as a top-ranking resource. Reclaiming a position within a disrupted history of ideas, young Indonesian media artists create relevant online counter publics. Do strategies developed to face previous forms of colonialism still resonate in their work? Is Indonesia’s anti-colonial legacy still relevant in Indonesia's media art scene? Its ambivalent influence on current digital art has been insufficiently investigated. My research aims to contribute to a diffractive reading of gendered forms of oppression, art and data colonialism; and to answer the research question whether data colonialism silences artists to the extent that centralized violence could silence artists in Indonesia up until the late 1990s. The fieldwork will be conducted in Yogyakarta, Java, supported by Universitas Sanata Dharma (USD) and Ruang Arsip dan Sejarah Perempuan Indonesia (RUAS), a Space of Women Archives and Herstory. The arts-based research project transforms (i.e. collects, translates and tags) in-depth interviews and analogue archive materials into animated stories that make sense of findings. Stories can form knowledge objects that deepen our understanding of complex matter. Processing fieldwork in Indonesia through animations, stories and visual art will foster transparency and, at the same time, help to protect the privacy of the citizens interviewed. Peer-reviewed paper publications, habilitation and a film will mark the final conclusion of the project.