I have been travelling since my earliest childhood years. My parents took me along on their journeys to the many islands of the Indonesian archipelago where they worked a couple of months each year. After having gained my MA degree in The Netherlands, I continued my studies at the University of Oxford, with numerous months-long research visits to the German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar. My research into maskanda brought me to Durban, South Africa, where I keep coming back. Since a couple of years I also regularly return to Yogyakarta, the town in Central Java where I grew up.
Being a geographer’s daughter, I have been reading maps for as long as I can remember. They are still extremely rich projections of spatial imagination for me. I could spend hours studying and phantasizing about mountain riffs, rivers, deserts and towns in the atlas at our home. Yet, I also learned how maps can be tools to identify, control and conquer spaces and places. They often serve a political purpose for those who make and read them.
Traveling is, hence, by no means a neutral or even innocent endeavour. It impacts on environments and on people’s livelihoods – sometimes permanently. It has always been a privilege for me to move wherever I like – with or without my family and loved ones. Despite the social status that travel and (music) tours represent, many people do not travel voluntarily. Their expulsion, exile or hope for a better life in an unknown or hostile environment is often a heavy or unbearable burden that can damage them and their family permanently.
I don’t deny I travel out of curiosity or maybe even an urge for territorial expansion, but I try to restrict my journeys to those occasions in which I hope to offer something of myself to those I visit. In my blogs I account for this intention (in Dutch).