Indonesia has big plans for the Java Man, who has requested it back from the Netherlands, along with many other fossils. In Java, the possible return is greeted with goosebumps, but there is also doubt: 'Our museums are not yet comparable.'
'The Javanese can hold up a mirror to visitors'
According to historian and writer Farid, who is regularly in the Netherlands for consultations, the Javanese fits into a larger story. Dubois was not the only one who became obsessed with the theory of evolution in the 19th century. Alfred Wallace was also active in Indonesia and the Javanese aristocrat and painter Raden Saleh also started digging himself. But with a different perspective. He was intrigued by the myth of the Balung Buto, the giants who once dominated Java.' Java people can hold up a mirror to visitors, says Farid. How does the human species relate to nature? With the cosmos?’ According to him, this ties in with traditional Indonesian knowledge and current concerns about the climate. "You can no longer present human evolution as a progress story."
Translated from Dutch written by Noël van Bemmel/de Volkskrant.