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Organizer: Eric Tagliacozzo, Yale University
Chair and Discussant: Barbara Watson Andaya, University of Hawaii, Manoa
This panel will focus on interactions between the "center" and various "peripheries" of the Indonesian state. The central theme running through the panels papers is the incorporation (or attempted incorporation) of areas outside Java to Javas programs and desiresboth in contemporary, and in historical, contexts. The papers seek to explore the nuanced and often highly charged relations between Jakarta and the so-called "Outer Islands": Sumatra, Borneo, Sulawesi, Maluku, Irian Jaya, and Nusa Tenggara. Have there been patterns of attempted domination by the center over the periphery over the past several centuries? If so, have these forces been unleashed similarly in all spaces, or have there been specifically regional attempts at incorporation? How have these islands outside of Java resisted domination, both in Dutch colonial times and since Independence? Is there any coherence in seeing a "center" and "periphery" in the Indonesian context at all?
The papers take a synchronic approach in exploring these themes from a variety of perspectives, using both fieldwork observations, as well as archival sources from Indonesia and abroad. Anthropological and historical considerations are juxtaposed against a wide geography as a backdrop: due coverage is given to both the Western "border arc" facing Malaysia, as well as the islands stretching further to the East. It is hoped that the panel will make a contribution to understanding the dynamics of state coercion and rural resistance both in Indonesia, and in a larger setting on theoretical levels.
Dividing the Islands: The Dutch Spice Monopoly as a Catalyst of Indigenous Religious Contrasts and Resistance in l7th-Century Maluku
Hendrik E. Neimeijer, Kampen Theological University
This paper argues that the divisions between Protestant and Islamic villages that characterizes large regions of modern eastern Indonesia began in the l7th century when the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) conquered the main centers of clove and nutmeg production in Maluku. Their ensuing pacification of large parts of the archipelago, led to a religious division on many islands as well as in their peripheries. Following the example of the Catholic Iberian powers who had begun proselytization during the 16th century, the VOC supported rather successful Protestant missionary efforts. When the British took over in 1795, a total of 230 Dutch Protestant ministers were working with hundreds of local Moluccan rajas, schoolmasters, and catechists.
The strict and centralist VOC-spice monopoly, however, had adverse effects on traditional societies, such as the Islamic sultanates of Ternate and Tidore and created continuous opposition in Islamized regions like Hitu (Ambon), Gorontalo, and other areas traditionally linked with Makassarese and Javanese trade. Whether they liked it or not, local chiefs on the periphery of the VOC-controlled regions were forced to make a choice: remain in isolation; support the uncertain Islamic resistance movements led by indigenous rulers; or submit to the new European overlord, sign contracts and become participants in the spice production, but also profit from the Pax Neerlandica. Placed in its socio-political context, religious changes in eastern Indonesia thus appear to have been connected to a centralizing colonial power and a range of peripheral powers opposed to this Western supremacy.
Kettle on a Slow Boil: Batavias Threat Perceptions in the Indies Outer Islands, 18701910
Eric Tagliacozzo, Yale University
This paper will explore Batavias real and perceived fears about the Western half of the Indies archipelago during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It specifically asks who the Dutch felt were threatening populations along the emerging frontier with the English possessions, both in Sumatra, Borneo, and in the seas in between these two islands. Dutch administrators along this border, as well as their counterparts in Batavia and the Hague, wrote voluminously about area peoples and phenomena they deemed as threatening to the states expansion and well being, with several categories of "threat" emerging from these writings. Uncontrolled violence was one of the most troubling categories to policy-planners in Batavia, with piracy and systemic, low-level violence throughout the "border arc" proving worrisome to empire-builders in the center. "Vreemde Oosterlingen," or "Foreign Asian" populations were also identified as threatening, whether these were Chinese, Japanese, or Turks and Arabs resident along the frontier. Finally, "Indonesians" themselves were of course also watched very carefully, for different reasons in different contexts. Wars of Dutch expansion and insurgencies inside already-conquered terrain were partially responsible for this vigilance, but the free and open movement of archipelago peoplesoften across vast distances, and sometimes undertaken for reasons inimical to the Dutch statewere also carefully scrutinized. This paper asks how Batavias vision of the Western frontier was constructed as well as imagined, with important consequences for local people on the ground.
Savage Imagery: Government and Mass Media Depictions of the Forest Tobelo of Indonesia
Christopher R. Duncan, George Washington University
The Indonesian government has long tried to resettle forest-dwelling populations that live in the interior of many islands in the archipelago. These efforts, and the propaganda that surrounds them, have resulted in the continued proliferation of derogatory stereotypes that depict these groups as "primitives" who are a threat to the nations stability. Based on fieldwork in Halmahera and research in Jakarta, this paper examines how Indonesian government publications and mass media representations describe the Forest Tobelo, the forest-dwelling foragers living in the interior of the island of Halmahera in eastern Indonesia. Until recently the Forest Tobelo had minimal interaction with government representatives in the region. Despite this lack of interaction and the dearth of information about them, they are a favorite subject of government publications about Isolated Societies (masyarakat terasing), and frequently appear in the provincial and national press.
Government publications consider the Forest Tobelo primitive pagans and a hindrance to regional development. The popular press echoes these images and often depicts them as bloodthirsty savages roaming the forests and terrorizing coastal villages. However, many Forest Tobelo have converted to Christianity, moved into coastal villages, and placed their children in school. These developments are rarely if ever mentioned and the government and public media continue to describe them based on past misconceptions. Many Forest Tobelo are aware of these negative stereotypes and this paper also examines their reactions to these portrayals and how they combat, or at times cultivate, them.