Ron Jenkins ’64, professor of theater, recently wrote an op-ed for The Jakarta Post about Run, a small Indonesian island. Run was “involved in a war between maritime empires” due to the presence of nutmeg on the island. While “the historic memory of Run’s inhabitants is vague, their pride… in the importance of their island’s past is vivid.” The residents of the small island no longer make a living with the spice trade and must have other jobs to provide for their families, but nutmeg is still a large part of the culture. “The small pale yellow nutmeg fruit still hangs from the boughs of the trees that surround the rumah besi” and “the sweet smell of the spice still permeates the island’s air.” Several locals wish for a way to preserve the history of their island so that the story is not lost for the younger generations. Read the article online here.
Jenkins also is featured in the July 15 edition of The Jakarta Post speaking about his oral history research and collaboration with artist Made Wianta. Jenkin’s and Wianta’s project commemorates the historic connections between Run and Manhattan, of which most residents of both islands are unaware. When asked about the history of Run before the 20th century, most locals will respond similarly to Kajiri, a 75-year-old farmer: “That was before I was born and no one is left alive who remembers those things.” Jenkins and Wianta see the deep impact and contributions that the Spice Islands and Run have had and made on global culture and the pride that Indonesians deserve to have about their history. The goal of the collaborative project that will include a book, an art installation, and theatrical performances that all incorporate the perspectives of Run’s farmers, is to focus on the island’s history from an artistic angle. “…if we look at the past only through the lens of politics we can get stuck in arguments that will never be resolved. Maybe by looking at the past through the prism of art, we can understand history in a new way and create a future we will also be able to feel proud of.” Read the article online here.