Thomas Karsten’s Indonesia

Modernity and the End of Europe, 1914–1945

Joost Coté

Colonial Indonesia’s foremost town planner and prominent architect, Herman Thomas Karsten (1884–1945), was inspired in his work by contemporary discourses on modernity and critiques of Western civilization. Drawing on Karsten’s published and private writing, this article argues that his disenchantment with the West and criticism of contemporary Dutch colonial practice led him to imagine and direct his town-planning and architectural projects towards the realization of a post-colonial, post-imperial world in which East and West would be united. Despite (or because of) his utopian ideal of world unity, Karsten was unable to accept the demands of the Indonesian nationalist movement.

Realizing the Dream of R.A. Kartini

Her Sister’s Letters from Colonial Java

Joost J. Coté

Realizing the dream of R.A. Kartini: Her sisters’ letters from colonial Java presents a unique collection of documents reflecting the lives, attitudes, and politics of four Javanese women in the early twentieth century. Joost J. Coté translates the correspondence between Raden Ajeng Kartini, Indonesia’s first feminist, and her sisters, revealing for the first time her sisters’ contributions in defining and carrying out her ideals. With this collection, Coté aims to situate Kartini’s sisters within the more famous Kartini narrative—and indirectly to situate Kartini herself within a broader narrative.
The letters reveal the emotional lives of these modern women and their concerns for the welfare of their husbands and the success of their children in rapidly changing times. While by no means radical nationalists, and not yet extending their horizons to the possibility of an Indonesian nation, these members of a new middle class nevertheless confidently express their belief in their own national identity.
Realizing the dream of R.A. Kartini is essential reading for scholars of Indonesian history, providing documentary evidence of the culture of modern, urban Java in the late colonial era and an insight into the ferment of the Indonesian nationalist movement in which these women and their husbands played representative roles.

Cars, Conduits, and Kampongs

The Modernization of the Indonesian City, 1920-1960

Series:

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.