This article explores the meanings of Chinese shophouses (known as ruko) within the dynamic socio-political and historical contexts of Indonesia. It argues that in order to fully understand this building type, it is necessary to move beyond its architectural characteristics or building typology and engage with the discourses of social perception and meaning production that define the thriving urban environment in Indonesia. Attentive to shifts in meanings across time, it shows how the structure of the ruko serves initially as a catalyst for political repression, then becomes a basis for economic recovery and finally serves as a site for identity formation. The article ultimately argues that studies of a building type should be more attentive to the negotiated relationship between architecture and identity and to the socio-political and cultural contestations within which the built environment is located.
Keywords: Chinese, Jakarta, identity, politics, shophouse
Kusno, Abidin. "The Ruko: Changing Appearances and Associations of Shophouses in Urban Indonesia." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 1, Number 2 (pp. 219-241), edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2012.