Location Scouting for the 13th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS)

On 8 March 2023, several IIAS delegates and representatives from Universitas Airlangga Faculty of Humanities scouted several historically and culturally significant sites in Surabaya. This process was taken as a part of the preparation for the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), which will be held from 28 July 2024 – 1 August in the Greater Surabaya area.

Meetings at Bumi Hotel Surabaya and Kasetsart University between Universitas Airlangga’s representatives and IIAS resulted in a shared understanding of the significance of Surabaya as a historic city with its prominent urban dynamics and culturally-varied populations. It is reflected in some of the sites which were checked.

In February, several IIAS delegates checked Trowulan Site as a potential destination for the 13th ICAS. This time, IIAS’ visitation to Surabaya enriched the realization of the multitude of ICAS themes which ranged from history and contemporary urban cultures. Several visited sites were Universitas Airlangga’s Faculty of Medicine, Siola, Tunjungan Street, North Quay, Kampung Peneleh, and Tambak Bayan.

Not only functioning as an academic space, but the building of Universitas Airlangga’s Faculty of Medicine also possesses important historical values for Indonesia. It is credited as a national heritage that demands no significant change to be made to its architecture. It became one of Indonesia’s first nationally-owned university buildings through the 1954 Indonesian Government Regulations.

Siola and Tunjungan Street are part and parcel of the heart of Surabaya’s urban center. Located right on the north side of Tunjungan Street, Siola is the gateway into a wide range of stores and cafes on Tunjungan Street. During the 1945 Battle of Surabaya, Siola was a buffer zone in fighting the Alliance armies. Since then, the building has undergone several functional changes, ranging from being used as a department store and public mall, and now as Surabaya Population and Civil Registration Agency office as well as a museum.

North Quay offers a different atmosphere in comparison to the previous three sites. Located in North Perak, the northern coastal part of Surabaya, it becomes a site of port activities and a space where coastal inhabitants perform their daily life.

Another visited site was Kampung Peneleh. Kampung Peneleh has a track record of being chosen as a site for various international programmes, most recently for the Urban Sketching Program initiated by the Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network (SEANNET) in collaboration with Urban Sketchers Surabaya. Peneleh is laden with ‘Southeast Asian identity’. Its complex relation to Surabaya as a city and its dense population as well as historical significance make Peneleh a suitable site to be looked upon for ICAS.

(Courtesy: Rohman Obet, 2023)

The last visited site was Kampung Tambak Bayan. Tambak Bayan is known for its high numbers of Chinese population. It is thus often called the ‘Chinatown of Surabaya’. Kampung Tambak Bayan has existed since the 11th century. Most of its inhabitants work as merchants, cooks, tailors, and carpenters. Like other visited sites, Tambak Bayan offers a multifaceted image of Surabaya whose historical weight is undeniable.