Nobuto Yamamoto

In Censorship in Colonial Indonesia, 1901–1942 Nobuto Yamamoto examines the institutionalization of censorship and its symbiosis with print culture in the former Dutch colony. Born from the liberal desire to promote the well-being of the colonial population, censorship was not practiced exclusively in repressive ways but manifested in constructive policies and stimuli, among which was the cultivation of the “native press” under state patronage. Censorship in the Indies oscillated between liberal impulse and the intrinsic insecurity of a colonial state in the era of nationalism and democratic governance. It proved unpredictable in terms of outcomes, at times being co-opted by resourceful activists and journalists, and susceptible to international politics as it transformed during the Sino-Japanese war of the 1930s.

Bali in the Early Nineteenth Century

The Ethnographic Accounts of Pierre Dubois


Helen M. Creese

In Bali in the Early Nineteenth Century, Helen Creese examines the nature of the earliest sustained cross-cultural encounter between the Balinese and the Dutch through the eyewitness accounts of Pierre Dubois, the first colonial official to live in Bali. From 1828 to 1831, Dubois served as Civil Administrator to the Badung court in southern Bali. He later recorded his Balinese experiences for the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences in a series of personal letters to an anonymous correspondent. This first ethnography of Bali provides rich, perceptive descriptions of early nineteenth-century Balinese politics, society, religion and culture. The book includes a complete edition and translation of Dubois’ Légère Idée de Balie en 1830/Sketch of Bali in 1830.

Sepoys against the Rising Sun

The Indian Army in Far East and South-East Asia, 1941–45


Kaushik Roy

During the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) suffered one of its greatest defeats in Burma. Both in Malaya and Burma, the bulk of the British Commonwealth forces comprised Indian units. Few people know that by 1944, about 70 percent of the Allied ground personnel in Burma was composed of soldiers of the Indian Army. The Indian Army comprised British-led Indian units, British officered units of the Indian princely states and the British units attached to the Government of India. Based on the archival materials collected from India and the United Kingdom, Sepoys against the Rising Sun assesses the combat/military/battlefield effectiveness of the Indian Army against the IJA during World War II. The volume is focussed on the tactical innovations and organizational adaptations which enabled the sepoys to overcome the Japanese in the trying terrain of Burma.


Sven Matthiessen

In Japanese Pan-Asianism and the Philippines from the Late 19th Century to the End of World War II – Going to the Philippines Is Like Coming Home? Sven Matthiessen examines the development of Japanese Pan-Asianism and the perception of the Philippines within this ideology. Due to the archipelago’s previous colonisation by Spain and the US the Philippines was a special case among the Japanese occupied territories during the war. Matthiessen convincingly proves that the widespread pro-Americanism among the Philippine population made it impossible for Japanese administrators to implement a pan-Asianist ideology that centred on a 'return to Asian values'. The expectation among some Japanese Pan-Asianists that ‘going to the Philippines was like coming home’ was never fulfilled.


Edited by David Henley and H.G.C. (Henk) Schulte Nordholt

In Environment, Trade and Society in Southeast Asia: A Longue Durée Perspective, eleven historians bring their knowledge and insights to bear on the long Braudelian sweep of Southeast Asian history. In doing so they seek both to debunk simplistic assumptions about fragile traditions and transformational modernities, and to identify real repeating patterns in Southeast Asia's past: clientelistic political structures, periodic tectonic and climatic disasters, ethnic occupational specializations, long cycles of economic globalization and deglobalization. Their contributions range across many centuries: from the Austronesian expansion to the Aceh tsunami, and from the Sanskrit cosmopolis to the Asian financial crisis. The book is inspired by, and dedicated to, Peter Boomgaard, a scholar whose work has embodied the Braudelian spirit in Southeast Asian historiography.

This title is available online in its entirety in Open Access.


Edited by Takeshi Ito

There are many excellent published collections of the indispensable Dutch documents for the History of Indonesia in the seventeenth century. However all of these have a Batavia-centred VOC view of the Archipelago and beyond, and show the relations of the Company with states which eventually fell within its orbit. Aceh, however, was the one state of the Archipelago that never fell within this orbit and maintained a defiant independence until 1873. It is therefore the most interesting state, but the least well known. Historians of Indonesia and of Islamic Asia in particular will need to consult this collection, but it will be of interest also to historians of Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian History more broadly in the early modern period.

Cars, Conduits, and Kampongs

The Modernization of the Indonesian City, 1920-1960


Edited by Freek Colombijn and Joost Coté

Cars, Conduits and Kampongs offers a wide panorama of the modernization of the cities in Indonesia between 1920 and 1960. The contributions present a case for asserting that Indonesian cities were not merely the backdrop to processes of modernization and rising nationalism, but formed a causal factor. Modernization, urbanization, and decolonization were intrinsically linked. The various chapters deal with such innovations as the provision of medical treatments, fresh water and sanitation, the implementation of town planning and housing designs, and policies for coping with increased motorized traffic and industrialization. The contributors share a broad critique of the economic and political dimensions of colonialism, but remain alert to the agency of colonial subjects who respond, often critically, to a European modernity.
Contributors include: Freek Colombijn, Joost Coté, Saki Murakami, Michelle Kooy, Karen Bakker, Pauline K.M. van Roosmalen, Hans Versnel, Farabi Fakih, Radjimo Sastro Wijono, Gustaaf Reerink, Arjan Veering, Johny A. Khusyairi, Purnawan Basundoro, Ida Liana Tanjung, and Sarkawi B. Husain
A full text Open Access version is also available.

China's Encounters on the South and Southwest

Reforging the Fiery Frontier Over Two Millennia


James A. Anderson and John K. Whitmore

China's Encounters on the South and Southwest. Reforging the Fiery Frontier Over Two Millennia discusses the mountainous territory between lowland China and Southeast Asia, what we term the Dong world, and varied encounters by China with this world's many elements. The essays describe such encounters over the past two millennia and note various asymmetric relations that have resulted therefrom. Local populations, indigenous chiefs, state officials, and rulers have all acted to shape this frontier, especially after the Mongol incursions of the thirteenth century drastically shifted it. This process has moved from the alliances of the Dong world to the indirect rule of the Tusi (native official) age to the Qing and recent Gaitu Guiliu efforts at direct rule by the state, placing regular officials in charge there. The essays detail the complexities of this frontier through time, space, and personality, particularly in those instances, as today on land and sea, when China elects to pursue an aggressive policy in this direction.
Contributors include: Brantly Womack, Kenneth MacLean, Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, Bradley Davis, Jaymin Kim, Alexander Ong, Joseph Dennis, Sun Laichen, John K. Whitmore, Kathlene Baldanza, Kenneth M. Swope, Michael Brose, James A. Anderson, Liam Kelley, and Catherine Churchman.

Islam, Colonialism and the Modern Age in the Netherlands East Indies

A Biography of Sayyid ʿUthman (1822 – 1914)


Nico J.G. Kaptein

In this biography Nico J.G. Kaptein studies the life and times of Sayyid ʿUthman (1822-1914), the most prominent Muslim scholar of his era in the Netherlands East Indies. During his long career, he provided guidance to the Muslim community and from 1889 onwards simultaneously served the colonial government as advisor for Muslim affairs after the famous C. Snouck Hurgronje had engaged him. Based on an analysis of his writings, Kaptein focuses on the question of how Sayyid ʿUthman viewed the place of Islam in the colonial state and the many reactions this provoked, both nationally and internationally, e.g. from the Cairo-based reformist Rashid Rida.

For an online exhibition on "Sayyid ʿUthman of Batavia (1822-1914): A Life in the Service of Islam and Colonial Rule" see:

Workers, Unions and Politics

Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s


John Ingleson

In Workers, Unions and Politics. Indonesia in the 1920s and 1930s, John Ingleson revises received understandings of the decade and a half between the failed communist uprisings of 1926/1927 and the Japanese occupation in 1942. They were important years for the labour movement. It had to recover from the crackdown by the colonial state and then cope with the impact of the 1930s depression. Labour unions were voices for greater social justice, for stronger legal protection and for improved opportunities for workers. They created a discourse of social rights and wage justice. They were major contributors to the growth of a stronger civil society.
The experiences and remembered histories of these years helped shape the agendas of post-independence labour unions.