Universiteit Leiden

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Els Bogaerts

Guest Researcher

Dr. E.M. Bogaerts
+31 71 527 2727

Fields of interest

Els Bogaerts is particularly interested in performing arts, literature, the effects of cultural encounters, culture and decolonization, the interface between art and science, and electronic media. In her research and teaching she focuses on Indonesia.

Current research

Currently a Visiting Fellow of LIAS, Els Bogaerts conducts research into the Serat Nitik Sultan Agung, a corpus of Javanese manuscripts. The texts are multivocal, have an open structure and accommodate a range of narratives, all centering around Sultan Agung, king of Mataram (r. 1613-1645), as the principal protagonist. They tell about the life and deeds of the sultan, the conversion of the people to Islam and the interaction of the Javanese with foreigners, including the Dutch. They are composed in tembang macapat, a Javanese poetic form, and in prose. The manuscripts that have been preserved were written, copied, read/recited and listened to in Javanese aristocratic circles, mostly in Yogyakarta, in the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century.

Within the framework of a Drewes Fellowship of the Leiden University Scaliger Institute, she investigates the religious and spiritual powers that support the sultan during his quest for secret knowledge.

Other topics of research: 1. Proximity and belonging in Javanese electronic media, theatre and literature. 2. Representation of history in the work of Suparto Brata.

PhD dissertation

Producing the local. Javanese performance on Indonesian television explores how television represents Javaneseness, as a factor designed to catch and keep the attention of its putative audiences. Central is the question of how people make use of national, regional, local, public and private television in Indonesia to represent the local and, in particular, how they construct images of Javaneseness through the production and dissemination of performance. Performance in Javanese has been used by the Indonesian television industry to entertain and inform its audiences, to represent the local/the regional, to preserve and nurture the traditional and to contribute to the building of a national culture, for persuasive (commercial or propaganda) aims, as a counter-voice of diversification in the direction of global or ‘Jakartan’ influences, and to express multiculturalism. Three main themes structure the study: representing tradition, localizing persuasion and mediating the local. Above all, this dissertation is a plea for a more thorough study of the role of proximity in the production, dissemination and reception of local television programmes.

Supervisor: Professor B. Arps. Defended: 2017.



  • PhD Literature and media studies, Leiden University
  • MA (cum laude) Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania, Leiden University: specialization in Indonesian, Classical Malay and Javanese languages and cultures                                      
  • Classical Javanese dance and music, Akademi Seni Tari Indonesia (ASTI, now Institut Seni Indonesia, ISI), Pamulangan Beksa Ngayogyakarta and Mardawa Budaya, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Balinese, Sundanese and Cirebon dance and music at ASTI and with private teachers
  • MA Germanic Philology: English and German, Theatre Science and Translation Theories, Antwerp University, Belgium
  • Master’s Teaching Credential, Antwerp University, Belgium


Els Bogaerts is an experienced lecturer and researcher, and coordinator of academic programmes. For sixteen years she worked at Leiden University and lectured at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania. As a guest lecturer she has worked at universities in the Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia and Belgium. She coordinated the research programme ‘Indonesia across orders. The reorganisation of Indonesian society, 1930-1960’ at the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, Amsterdam, and several other academic programmes. In 2018-2019 she participated in the research programme New Directions in the study of Javanese literature: Reassessing ideas, methods and theories in the study of the literature of Java, Indonesia, which was hosted by the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has worked as a book editor, co-ordinator and presenter of series of talks for a wide public, as a translator, and as a teacher of Indonesian courses.

Els Bogaerts performs classical Javanese dance, and has given talks on Indonesian performing arts at the main fora in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Publications – A selection


  • “Space” and “belonging” in Suparto Brata’s Donyane wong culika (The world of the untrustworthy).’ [Forthcoming]
  • ‘Words of power and wisdom: Credible authorities and reliable sources in the Serat Nitik Sultan Agung.’ [Forthcoming]
  • Proximity and belonging in Javanese electronic media, theatre and literature. [Monograph. Forthcoming]


  • ‘To fast or not to fast? Pangulu Ki Amad Kategan challenges his sultan in the Serat Nitik Sultan Agung.’ In: Els Bogaerts and Tony Day (eds), Reading Javanese literature. Wacana 22-3:631-650.
  • Bogaerts, Els and Tony Day, with a comment by Danielle Chen Kleinman, ‘Purwaka.’ In: Els Bogaerts and Tony Day (eds), Reading Javanese literature: New directions. Wacana 22-3:v-xvii.


  • ‘The panther’s fang: In search of Indonesian television archives.’ Wacana 20-2:175-204. [Indonesian Heritage and Library Collections II. Special Issue 50th Anniversary of KITLV Jakarta]


  • Producing the local: Javanese performance on Indonesian television. PhD thesis, Leiden University.
  • ‘Mediating the local: Representing Javanese cultures on local television in Indonesia, 1998-2008.’ JSEAS, 48-2 (June):196-218.


  • ‘The installation of Prince Mangkubumi: Performing Javanese history.’ Wacana 17-3:473–505. [Stories and storytelling in Indonesia II]
  • Barendregt, Bart dan Els Bogaerts (Penyunting), Merenungkan gema: Perjumpaan musikal Indonesia-Belanda. Penerjemah: Landung Simatupang. Jakarta: KITLV & Yayasan Obor. [Indonesian translation of Recollecting resonances: Indonesian-Dutch musical encounters, 2013]
  • Barendregt, Bart dan Els Bogaerts, ‘Merenungkan gema: Menyimak warisan musik Indonesia-Belanda.’ In: Bart Barendregt dan Els Bogaerts (Penyunting), Merenungkan gema: Perjumpaan musikal Indonesia-Belanda, pp. 1-36. Jakarta: KITLV & Yayasan Obor.


  • ‘Like heavenly nymphs: Dancing a myth in Java today.’ In: Sri Kuhnt-Saptodewo, Mary Somers-Heidhues and Bettina Zorn, Danced creation: Asia’s mythical past and living present, pp.48-53. Exhibition Catalogue Weltmuseum Wien. Vienna: Christian Brandstätter Verlag. [Also published in German translation]
  • Barendregt, Bart and Els Bogaerts (eds), Recollecting resonances. Indonesian-Dutch musical encounters. Leiden: Brill/KITLV. [VKI 288]
  • Barendregt, Bart and Els Bogaerts, ‘Recollecting resonances. Listening to an Indonesian-Dutch musical heritage.’ In: Barendregt, Bart and Els Bogaerts (eds), Recollecting resonances. Indonesian-Dutch musical encounters, pp.1-30. Leiden: Brill/KITLV.


  • ‘“Whither Indonesian culture?” Rethinking ‘culture’ in Indonesia in a time of decolonization.’ In: Jennifer Lindsay and Maya H.T. Liem (eds), Heirs to world culture: Being Indonesian 1950-1965, pp.223-253. Leiden: KITLV Press. [VKI 274]
  • Bogaerts, Els and Remco Raben (eds.), Beyond empire and nation. Decolonizing societies in Africa and Asia, 1930s-1970s. Leiden: KITLV Press.
  • Bogaerts, Els and Remco Raben, ‘Beyond empire and nation.’ In: Beyond empire and nation. Decolonizing societies in Africa and Asia, 1930s-1970s, pp.7-21. Leiden: KITLV Press.


  • ‘“Kemana arah kebudayaan Indonesia?” Menggagas kembali ‘kebudayaan’ di Indonesia pada masa dekolonisasi.’ In: Jennifer Lindsay and Maya H.T. Liem (penyunting), Ahli waris budaya duni. Menjadi Indonesia 1950-1965, pp.255-285. Denpasar: Pustaka Larasan / Jakarta: KITLV-Jakarta.


  • Opera Java. Opera voor de 21e eeuw. Amsterdam: Tropentheater.  

Guest Researcher

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS Indonesie


No relevant ancillary activities

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