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Visual and textual images of women : 1930s representations of colonial Bali as produced by men and women travellers

By Jojor Ria Sitompul


All kinds of travellers came to Bali in the 1930s. Many of them produced books\ud and photographs, which later incited more visitors to come and see Bali for\ud themselves. The works of these image-makers who travelled to Bali are the result\ud of actual experience and recounted journeys. Their descriptions of Bali, although\ud based on authentic experience, are also the result of literary and pictorial readings.\ud Their accounts or representations are often enriched with material accumulated\ud from fiction, biblical references, and scientific books, as well as paintings and\ud photographs. These image-makers of Bali did not arrive without mental luggage.\ud Both the textual and visual image-makers constructed images of the paradise\ud according to their own fantasies and personal experience, as did the consumers of\ud those images. The representation of Balinese women was thus heavily influenced\ud by earlier travellers, photographers, and scholars. However, it is difficult to know\ud who imitates whom and whose images can be cited as authentic. The previous\ud readings or visual representations condition expectations in each traveller, so that\ud she or he fashions images inspired by those already in circulation. The themes\ud which recur over and over in photographs confirm existing stereotypical concepts.\ud In other words, these representations influence perceptions of the 'other' that\ud persist to the present day

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