Understanding the Imaginaries of Modernity in Jakarta: A Social Representation of Urban Development in Private Housing Projects

  • Risa Permanadeli Indonesian Center of Social Representation Studies
  • Jérôme Tadié UMR Urmis, Institut de recherche pour le développement – IRD
Keywords: modernity, imaginaries, imagined modernity, social imaginaries, real estate, housing, post-colonial studies, Jakarta


This article analyses how social imaginaries are shaped and produced in Jakarta. It studies the roots and development of social, cultural and spatial patterns developed since the Dutch colonial period. It focuses on social imaginaries and social representations, which are both complex social and mental phenomena, connecting people with the whole dimension of social world. In Jakarta, the spatial segregation pattern created on purpose by the Dutch clearly separated the Westerners from the Natives. It produced a collective memory that influenced the creation process of representations, in particular regarding residential neighborhoods. This mental process synthesizes the history of the Jakarta in its the production of social imaginaries which allows us to analyse the evolution of power relations and patterns in the context of globalisation . This study on the housing project advertisements, represents a testimony of how a society in a formerly colonised country defines itself in a global world. City development, through the lens of housing projects, can be seen to reflect a collective emotion which reveals that the relationships between Westerners and the Indigenous local community remain asymmetric.

Author Biographies

Risa Permanadeli, Indonesian Center of Social Representation Studies

RISA PERMANADELI is the Director of Center of Social Representations Studies, in Jakarta-Indonesia. Her research areas covering the study on Asian Culture and Modernity, cultural studies, power, post colonial and social representations, urban culture, collective memory and oral tradition. She co-edited with Denise Jodelet and Toshio Sugiman the proceeding of the 9th International Conference of Social Representations: Alternative Production of Knowledge and Social Representations (2012).

Jérôme Tadié, UMR Urmis, Institut de recherche pour le développement – IRD

JÉRÔME TADIÉ is a geography research fellow at the French Research Institute for Development (IRD). He is the author of Les Territoires de la violence à Jakarta, translated in Indonesian in 2009. His latest article in English is "Fires, Urban Environments and Politics in Contemporary Jakarta (1966-2007)", in G.Bankoff, U.Luebken and J.Sand, Flammable Cities (2012). His research interests focus on urban and social geography, informal governance, and security in Southeast Asian cities. He is part of the Inverses research group (www.inverses.org).