Tanah Runcuk that used to be a subject of intense debates among the scholars, is getting more interesting to be discussed again due to its being within liminality; between presence and absence, between fiction and reality, between fantasy and history. Precisely, Centre for Tanah Runcuk Studies intends to read the discourse of Tanah Runcuk which occupies a realm between myth and science with the approaches of art project and interdisciplinary studies. Instead of drawing a conclusion and producing a single interpretation, this effort expects to open a dialogue and alternative entry in approaching the discourse of Tanah Runcuk.

Recent Exhibitions


The idea underlying this exhibition emerged during our long-term research on the tradition of “Rampog Macan” or Tiger Raid. This ‘lost ceremony’ is believed to have begun (and written) in the early 17th century, and banned by the colonial authority in Dutch East Indies at the early 20th century.  For this ritual, people would gather under the hot tropical sun, in the palace square, to see Javanese tigers or weretigers being pitted against buffaloes, bulls, or thousands of spears. They would fight death on the “stage”. The king would also invite high-level colonial officials to sit with him; this was done for the sake of demonstrating his power. Tight rings of spears were the only wall separating the masses from the fights. The tigers’ death was inevitable, be it by the bull’s horn or a human’s spears.

Recent Projects


In the early 1990s, Kusbirin and his team completed a documentary film narrating their investigation towards the tradition of Rampogan Siluman Macan that had been celebrated since the colonial era in Tanah Runcuk. Without any clear reason, the authority ruling at that time stated that the film did not pass censorship. Only a while after, the original camera negative (OCN) of the film was said to be missing. As the regime changed, the Centre for Tanah Runcuk Studies team attempted to remake the film which had never met the public. CTRS also created a reinterpretation departing from the tape-recorded interviews with a number of informants whose names were kept confidential.

Recent Essays


Archive, a Reality of Power and the Other

by Irham N. Anshari
To comprehend the lengthy project of the Centre for Tanah Runcuk Studies (CTRS), initially I have to propose an appropriate perspective to apply. This entire project posts some questions about archive, which thereupon lead us to the question of “what is reality?” Boris Groys comes up with an interes...


Witch-Hunt and Agricultural Revolution in Tanah Runcuk by Yulianto Nugroho
It more or less tells about the situation where so many people coming from different backgrounds were gathering in a large mass. Some people were enjoying the atmosphere of witch-hunt by telling jokes one another, while some others doing some reckless acts. If the brutality had been initiated in conjunction with the revolutionary anticolonial nationalism, it would have brought the authority of the Dutch East Indies government down. This was in parallel with the imagination of Indonesia described by Dr. Soetomo. This was what the ruling authority considered as the most dangerous revolution.
Magical Powers: Traditional Elites and Colonialism by Kristina da Silva
Why should this collective resembling a vergadering be annulled? In the 19th century, Java was encountering some social explosions. Nevertheless, the resistance against the colonial government had not grown into national scale. It means that the rebellions against colonialism were still conducted in local scopes. Moreover, the notion of nationalism had not yet been evidently present. Consequently, those rebellions would quickly be followed by exterminations. Still in the same century, raised diverse religious movements manifested in the forms of religious schools and mystic teaching. These rebellions occurred as a result of the replacement of traditional system by the modern one.

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