Harry A. Poeze KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies The Netherlands Leiden

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Martijn Manders and Laura van der Haar, Rooswijk 1740: Een scheepswrak, zijn bemanning en het leven in de 18de eeuw. Amsterdam: Balans, 2021, 335 pp. ISBN: 9789463821209, price: EUR 23.99 (paperback).

On its second journey to the Indies on January 9, 1740, the VOC vessel Rooswijk shipwrecked on the notorious Goodwin Sands off the British coast. None of its crew of 237 survived. It is one of the more than two thousand documented cases of wreckage in these waters. Of the crew, until now only 24 have been identified. Rooswijk’s remains were discovered in 2004 by private explorers. To prevent an uncontrolled and commercial exploitation, which would damage historical research, Dutch and British authorities introduced legislation which forbade unauthorized searches. The Dutch archeological underwater service started research on the Rooswijk in 2017. Until now, 3,000 objects have been found. This book by maritime archeologist Manders and archeologist/novelist Van der Haar concentrates on the Rooswijk, but intends to give a comprehensive account of VOC shipping and maritime archeology. Both stories are romanticized, but as the authors contend, represent realistic possible scenarios. Thus the story of the ship is told through the experiences and observations of six fictive crew members. The archeological part, with a lot on the procedures and specific aspects of exploring the sea bottom are told by a first person narrator. There is no information on sources consulted, or the manner of approach of the book. It thus remains a readable novel with a lot of useful information, but with unaccounted sources.

Nancy Jouwe, Matthijs Kuipers and Remco Raben (eds), Slavernij en de stad Utrecht. Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2021, 328 pp. ISBN: 9789462497689, price: EUR 24.99 (paperback).

In 2018 and 2019, the Town Councils of Amsterdam and Rotterdam decided to ask their boards to initiate research into the colonial past of their cities, with an emphasis on the negative aspects, in particular slavery. Already by 2020, this resulted in solid volumes, which included harsh negative judgements concerning the active cooperation of these cities in colonial enterprises and the slave trade. The follow-up will at least ensure that the Dutch involvement is given appropriate attention and will result in tangible measures to recognize other aspects of the colonial past. The example of Amsterdam and Rotterdam was followed by the Town Council of Utrecht, in July 2019. In an admirably short period of time, the editors of the Utrecht volume have fulfilled their assignment. Their approach is more or less in between the Amsterdam and Rotterdam volumes, with its choice for a small number of comprehensive essays (Rotterdam) and for forty essays with a somewhat looser connection with the subject (Amsterdam). Utrecht opts for twenty articles, sometimes loosening the editorial grip.

One might think that Utrecht’s past, with no direct links to colonialism and slavery, would not be as incriminating as the maritime towns of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The introduction of 25 pages ends with a number of conclusions, which tell differently. The town was involved in slavery in a formal sense. The local elite was to a high degree personally involved, in the East as well as the West Indies. Moreover, a considerable number of its citizens were employed in colonial enterprises. All these activities remained largely behind the scenes, as well as the presence of Black people in the city. All Utrecht institutions, such as the church, the missions, museums, and the university, have profited from slavery and colonial exploitation. In the essays, the conclusions are substantiated. These largely concern local administrators in their official and in their private capacities. Also, quite a number of Utrecht citizens went abroad and came back rich, and then erected luxurious dwellings. Utrecht in the nineteenth century became a center of organizational abolitionist activities. Important spokesmen were Petronella Moens and Nicolaas Beets, whose efforts were modest. The presence of Black people from 1600 on was long hidden, but is now becoming visible. The last articles are on the organizational, cultural, and artistic manifestations of Black people in Utrecht now.

Nancy Jouwe, Wim Manuhutu, Matthias van Rossum and Merve Tosun (eds), Slavernij herbezien: Visuele bronnen over slavernij in de Indonesische archipel en Indische Oceaan. Edam: LM Publishers, 126 pp. ISBN: 9789460224539, price: EUR 19.50 (paperback).

Nancy Jouwe, Wim Manuhutu, Matthias van Rossum and Merve Tosun (eds), Revisualizing Slavery: Visual Sources on Slavery in the Indonesian Archipelago & Indian Ocean. Edam: LM Publishers, 2021, 126 pp. ISBN: 9789460220111, price: EUR 19.50 (paperback).

This book is the product of a workshop called ‘Mapping slavery’ in Yogyakarta in October 2016, with a follow-up in Amsterdam, October 2017. The first meeting, with eleven speakers, emphasized that slavery in the East was probably more important than the Western variant. The Amsterdam workshop concentrated on what visual and material sources might contribute to the knowledge of slavery in the East. Fifteen of its papers are brought together in this large-format and profusely illustrated volume. An English translation is being published at the same time. Visual sources are rare, and it takes a lot of expertise to look behind the façade of a peaceful colonial society, as depicted in the sources present. Quite a number of these papers succeed in identifying the hidden force of racism, as, for instance, in Jan Brandes’ drawings, which represent ‘white innocence.’ Other examples can be found by looking at publicly owned paintings with a fresh eye (as Van Rossum and Eveline Sint Nicolaas do). The short essays, generally of six pages, are grouped in three subdivisions: ‘Looking at silences: presence and absence of slavery’, ‘Portraits, typologies and stereotypes’, and ‘Countrysides, cities and local memory.’ It is all revealing, and a strong plea for an approach that integrates expertise from diverse disciplines.

Paul Consten, I.D. Fransen van de Putte (1822–1902): Het leven van een selfmade politicus. Nijmegen: Vantilt, 2019, 415 pp. ISBN: 9789460044663, price: EUR 29.50 (hardback).

Isaäc Fransen van de Putte was a Dutch politician who, as a liberal, was a member of the Second Chamber from 1862 until 1880, and next became a member of the First Chamber until his death. He was a Minister of the Colonies twice (1863–1866 and 1872–1874). His background and experience were atypical for an MP. He had served for ten years on ships journeying to the East Indies, rising from cabin-boy to navigating officer. After ten such trips, he became manager of a sugar plantation in 1849. This was a success, and he became tenant and owner of the estate, and made a fortune. He had intimate knowledge of the whole process of sugar and tobacco production, which was for a substantial part dictated by the controversial Cultivation System, with its forced production of export products. Van de Putte opposed the system and called for fundamental changes, which in practice would have meant the end of the system and its replacement by ‘free labor,’ which would have benefitted the rural mass of farmers, and would have eliminated the corruption of indigenous and Dutch officials.

He repatriated and at once looked for a chance to become an MP. He soon succeeded and became the rare exception in a parliament of wealthy lawyers, who adhered to their own academic norms. However, Van de Putte was accepted and listened to as an Indies specialist with practical knowledge. Within a year he was nominated as Minister of the Colonies, in a cabinet led by Thorbecke. Thorbecke’s authority, once considered unassailable, was questioned by MP s who opted for more social-liberal policies. Van de Putte was considered to be their spokesman, and he clashed with Thorbecke, causing Thorbecke’s resignation in 1866. A few months later, Thorbecke struck back and forced Van de Putte to step down. In his ministerial term he introduced measures to mitigate the Cultivation System, which could only result in the end of the system. However, ultimate success was not achieved. In his second ministerial term, he became ever deeper involved in the Aceh War. His row with Governor-General James Loudon did not work in his favor. Paul Consten, who adapted his PhD thesis to become this book, has done a fine job and thus promotes Van de Putte from backstage to a rightful place in parliamentary history, and enlightens his role in the demise of the Cultivation System.

Petra Groen, Anita van Dissel, Mark Loderichs, Rémy Limpach and Thijs Brocades Zaalberg, Krijgsgeweld en kolonie: Opkomst en ondergang van Nederland als koloniale mogendheid 1816–2010. Amsterdam: Boom, 2021, 644 pp. ISBN: 9789024438952, price: EUR 55.00 (hardback).

The Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie (NIMH), an independent research institute within the Nederlandse Defensie Academie, has set itself the ambitious goal of publishing a comprehensive history of Dutch military history in a series of six volumes. The best expertise on the subject has been mobilized and funds have been allocated to ensure a beautiful implementation: lavishly illustrated in full color, with relevant maps and tables, a commensurate apparatus with notes, literature, and index, in a royal format, printed on quality paper, and weighing almost four kilograms. Four volumes deal with the exploits of the Dutch Republic and its succeeding Kingdom. The volume on the Eighty Year’s War against Spain (1568–1648) was published in 2014. The sequel, published in 2019, analyzes the steady decline of the Republic (1648–1813), along with its status as a country with powerful naval and armed forces. In preparation are two volumes on the years 1814–1949, with the Dutch Kingdom trying to maintain its neutrality, torn between the three Great Powers that surrounded it. The last two volumes describe the military role overseas, in the East and West Indies. Volume 5, titled ‘Overseas wars,’ covers the years 1595–1814 and was published in 2015.

Volume 6 mainly concerns developments in the Netherlands Indies/Indonesia, but devotes a relatively substantial number of pages—a little more than a hundred—to Suriname and six Caribbean islands, of which Curaçao and Aruba were the most important. Petra Groen and Anita van Dissel, the authors on the West-Indian military history, do their best to identify the common features of military policies, ideally formulated in The Hague and relating to East and West. Their efforts were not in vain. As for the authors of the East Indies chapters, the two historians are joined by Mark Loderichs, Rémy Limpach, and Thijs Brocades Zaalberg. The greatest part was the work of Petra Groen, who was also the first author of introductions and conclusions. The book is thus also a tribute to her scholarship, simultaneously marking her retirement. All authors work with or have worked with the NIMH, and are ultimately in the service of the Dutch Defense Ministry.

This study was already controversial before it was published. Without knowing its contents and conclusions, a clamorous and diverse group made itself heard, protesting the negative evaluation of the Dutch colonial past and the characterization that excessive violence was a common feature among Dutch military in the war between the Netherlands and the Indonesian Republic. By coincidence, the publication of this volume occurs only about a year before the results of the project ‘Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia,’ a cooperative undertaking of NIMH, KITLV, and NIOD, will be made public. Essential in the latter project is a review of the role of the Dutch military in the conflict and specifically the use of excessive violence. In this NIMH study, the role of violence has also become the focus, including the period of 1945–1949. Rémy Limpach, together with Petra Groen, is the author of the chapter on this bloody end of Dutch rule, on which he published his De brandende kampongs van generaal Spoor (2016), which caused a furor. It prompted the Dutch government to approve and finance the project, in which Limpach is also involved as the author of a study on intelligence during the Dutch-Indonesian conflict.

The twelve chapters of this book are organized chronologically, and follow the same pattern: an introduction that poses questions, an exposition of developments, and conclusions, all done to the point and crystal clear. The Dutch Republic lost all its colonies to the British during the Napoleonic Wars and Occupation. It was only because the British wanted to create a counterweight to France that the latter’s magnanimity allowed the Dutch to return in 1814. The Dutch had great trouble to assert their authority. In fact, as this book poses as a general thesis, throughout the colonial period the Dutch Kingdom was too small to rule the archipelago, lacking resources and manpower to become a strong and respected authority in the vast Indonesian territory. It was even official policy that extension of territory was not sought and considered too costly, involving expensive army deployment. Its unsteady position led to compensatory army action, which as a rule was accompanied by extreme violence. This army—now named KNIL—could operate only by recruiting indigenous soldiers, whose loyalty and fighting capacity were often doubted by their Dutch superiors. This also stemmed from their ingrained racism, considering their Indonesian opponents as inferior. For that reason also, and at a heavy loss, the Dutch army initially followed a static tactic in the Java War (1825–1830) and Aceh War (1873–1914). This same underestimation happened when confronted with guerrilla resistance. It took a long time before lessons were drawn as to a more appropriate response than bloody reprisals directed at both combatants and civilians. In fact, a workable answer to guerrilla warfare was not part of army theory and there were no manuals on how to counter such tactics and attacks. By trial and error a solution was found to end the Aceh War, initially on the basis of an agreement between J.B. van Heutsz and Ch. Snouck Hurgronje that also inaugurated the successful Korps Marechaussee.

In the meantime, the Ethical Policy was introduced, which was also intended to benefit the population of territories hitherto not brought under Dutch authority. KNIL took care, with or without violence, that this actually happened. The modern state the Dutch probably wanted to establish did not materialize and soon repression and racial hierarchies were the instruments used to sustain the Dutch colonial rule. For this purpose, KNIL, in cooperation with the colonial police, remained active and stuck to its violent approach. This book points at a critical opportunity to change, when conscription for all Indonesians was on the agenda in the last years of World War I, which was ultimately blocked. The course was set for a police state, set up against those Indonesians who proclaimed their democratic rights. The many Dutchmen enjoying a pleasant life in the tropics were willfully blind to these developments. In fact, after the German occupation of the Netherlands, and when the Batavian government once again declined the offer of cooperation against Japan, the nationalists took their own course. Non-cooperation was their policy and colonial institutions ware brushed aside—an alternative government was in the making. When Japan attacked, KNIL was no match, as its task had always been limited to pacify unrest caused by an internal adversary. The KNIL performance against Japan was poor, as many observations from servicemen confirm.

In this book, the chapters on the crucial 1942–1949 years are somewhat subdued. Illuminating personal accounts, proving its analysis, are hardly included. The main thesis, however, is not toned down. The Dutch colonial territories were throughout brought under Dutch control by extreme violence. Civil authorities were not able to control KNIL, as this study makes abundantly clear. It is striking that in this respect the learning ability of KNIL was limited—and thus a straight line can be drawn from Van Heutsz to Spoor, the Dutch commander from 1945–1949. The emphasis in the book is on the KNIL exploits, but the Dutch Navy is also discussed, as an auxiliary force and in action against Japan in 1942 on a doomed mission. The organization of the Navy was extremely complicated, and was the subject of endless discussion in all kinds of institutions that almost invariably ended in deadlock. In all, this study is important and convincing in its merciless analysis. Are there omissions? No, it is comprehensive and exhaustive. What is there to critique? Probably, there should have been a bit more on the Republican evaluation of the Dutch tactical concepts and their own strategic thinking, as Nasution is not the only relevant source.

Suze Zijlstra, De voormoeders: Een verborgen Nederlands-Indische familiegeschiedenis. Amsterdam: Ambo/Anthos, 2021, 312 + 16 pp. ISBN: 9789026346484, price: EUR 24.99 (hardback).

Suze Zijlstra (1986) is a historian specialized in Dutch maritime and colonial history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a student, her interest also turned to her own past, with roots in the Indies. Among her forebears must have been indigenous women, whose relations with Europeans resulted in a growing number of Indo-Europeans (Eurasians). Ever more of them gradually constituted a separate racial group, surpassing the Europeans in numbers. They developed their own culture. Their position was precarious, between the masses of ‘natives’ and the ruling circles of the colony, who in essence looked down on these so-called Indo’s. Still more critical in this respect was the position of the native women, who were forced to become a nyai, a slave or a servant to please their male owners or overseers. The children thus born, as well as their mothers, were without rights. Their father could at will determine their fate—and that of their mothers—by recognizing (or not) the child as his lawful descendant.

Suze Zijlstra grew up in a typical Indo-European family that fled Indonesia in 1955, when the Indonesian government radically wiped out Dutch influence, in fact forcing the Indo-Europeans to leave their motherland. Zijlstra’s interest in the past of her family resulted in a recording of a ten hour interview with her grandmother (born 1924). It ultimately also gave her the impetus to write down the history of her own lineage, combining the perspectives of a historian and a granddaughter. Her point of departure was not primarily the descent lines of the male family members, but the ancestry along the female line. To reconstruct the stories of her male forebears already proved to be an assiduous enterprise, but to give the women involved even as little as just a name in a number of cases proved impossible. It was Zijlstra’s express objective to give her ‘foremothers’ a biography. Based on the previous nine generations dating back to 1700, she was able to collect scant bits of information on her female forebears through an admirable search in archives the world over, especially in the VOC archives. Zijlstra speculates on their fate. Were they slaves or nyai? What about Jacomina Fay, who gave birth to 25 children, between ages 13 and 44? Zijlstra is not optimistic, as she imagines how they lived, and even feels responsible for their lot, and questions the behavior of their male partners, also represented in her lineage. Zijlstra’s forebears mainly stayed in Makassar and Surabaya. Some were well-to-do or VOC officials of importance. Their daughters, however, still had their own problems. Opportunities for women were rare, and most had to wait for a prospective marriage partner. Around 1900 the situation changed, and Indo-European women began to claim equal rights to men and job opportunities. The Japanese occupation halted all these positive developments. On Java, Indo-Europeans were interned, first by the Japanese, and next by the Indonesians. Many fled to the Netherlands, followed by the last waves of 1955–1957. Zijlstra’s community settled in the Netherlands, and retained its own culture, probably highlighted in the extensive cooking that accompanied family meetings.

For the author, the research and its results helped to forge an identity. She made acquaintance with the women who determined her genes, her mindset, and cultural background. She now feels part of a long tradition. In the last pages she relates her pity about her inability to continue the line of women of which she is now the last part. Thus this book has become an intense personal account, as she intended it to be. Still, from a historical point of view, it is simultaneously a well-researched survey and, with 40 pages of references, up to high standards. Still, a neutral reader might find Zijlstra’s interferences with personal circumstances and her tale about her ‘foremothers’ a bit too indulgent. But every reader will be impressed by the sincerity and honesty with which Zijlstra relates her story. It is interesting to compare her book with Moederstad by Philip Dröge—so similar and yet so different in its result.

Alicia Schrikker, De vlinders van Boven-Digoel: Verborgen verhalen over kolonialisme. Amsterdam: Prometheus, 2021, 326 pp. ISBN: 9789044638394, price: EUR 25.00 (paperback).

Alicia Schrikker, a history professor at Leiden University, specializes in the history of Asian colonial societies, focusing on natural disasters, colonial culture, and slavery. In this collection she brings together twelve essays, which for the most part are revised articles or lectures. Eight of these explain aspects of slavery revealed through meticulous research in archival sources. At first glance these archives look like the reports of official activities, largely without the human role, especially those of lower class Europeans and local inhabitants, including women and slaves. Schrikker pleads convincingly for a different approach in researching the archives, looking at glimpses of everyday life in a colony and further exploring them. It requires a specific talent and long experience like that of Schrikker to do so. Thus from the life stories of ordinary people, as recorded in court proceedings, for instance, we learn of the daily and pervasive influence of slavery manifested in an astounding number of slavery formats. As for its abolition, this was a slow process, sabotaged by a great number of individuals and organizations who profited from it, including the highest officials of VOC and colonial government.

Other essays concern the lasting impression of volcano eruptions in 1711 and 1856 on the remote island of Sangihe Besar, in writing and music, as well as artifacts. The experience of an Indo-European girl who was sent to Europe to complete her education, based on letters exchanged between mother and daughter, offers insight into the preoccupations of a schoolgirl torn between Banjarmasin and the Netherlands. An essay tells the story of a postman in Langsa (Aceh), who in 1925 delivered a package of communist pamphlets and was arrested as a communist accomplice, in the reigning anti-communist paranoia. He was only released after six months. The last essay, ‘The Butterflies of Boven-Digoel,’ explains how butterflies from Digoel ultimately became part of the Brussels Natural Museum. This is one of the hidden stories of Schrikker, and the reader is advised to look for it, and be surprised. Schrikker’s stories are well-referenced in 60 pages.

Lidy Nicolasen, Een onverschrokken leven: De vele hartstochten van Fernanda Willekes MacDonald. Amsterdam: Balans, 2021, 270 + 16 pp. ISBN: 9789463821834, price: EUR 21.99 (paperback).

This book tells the life story of Fernanda Willekes MacDonald (1893–1980). While from an intellectual and progressive family, the ambitions of the refractory Fernanda in the field of study and the choice of a partner were frustrated. In 1913 she married an orthodox clergyman, a union that was a failure from its first day. She gave birth to two children. Her social compassion made her an active participant in the Union of Christian Socialists. This Union, favorably disposed to communism, even gained a seat in the Dutch parliament. In these circles she came to know the Chinese student Thung Tjeng Hiang (1897–1960), who boarded with Fernanda and her husband. Hiang and Fernanda fell in love, and after a lot of resistance from family and society, at large Fernanda got a divorce and in 1923 married Hiang, who was to become an international expert in virology. Together they had two children. In 1929 they left for the Indies, where Hiang was employed by research stations in Klaten and Bogor. Fernanda remained active in various kinds of welfare activities, concentrating on Indo-European children. She opposed the colonial and racial organization of society. Among her close acquaintances were Wim Wertheim and his wife. This all ended in 1942, with the Japanese occupation. Fernanda was not interned, because of her Chinese husband, and did her best to alleviate the plight of the Indo-European women who were not interned. Her position was painful. In May 1946 she repatriated to the Netherlands. Hiang worked irregularly for the Indonesian government and became a professor in Wageningen, The Netherlands. Fernanda, Hiang and the Wertheims became vocal supporters of Mao’s Communist Republic. They made visits to China–the author labels them as fellow travelers.

Lidy Nicolasen, formerly a journalist, has written about Fernanda as a role model for a different and independent woman’s life. In writing this biography she was helped by an abundance of family sources. This may make her story somewhat redundant, for instance, in the drawn-out marriage crisis of Fernanda with her first husband. About a third of the book concerns itself with the experiences in the Indies. These remain somewhat superficial, as does the sketch of the general background. Moreover, the many errors in Indonesian terms and names should have been corrected.

Anne-Lot Hoek, De strijd om Bali: Imperialisme, verzet en onafhankelijkheid 1846–1950. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2021, 704 + 16 pp. ISBN: 978940315231, price: EUR 39.99 (hardback).

Bali always occupied a special position in the Dutch East Indies, as a Hindu enclave with a specific and spectacular culture. It was well known for its long resistance against the intrusion of the Dutch colonial state, in which some victories were won. In the end, the rulers of the diverse realms did not surrender, but sacrificed their lives and that of their subjects in a collective suicide called a puputan. The last of these took place in 1908. The Dutch rule slowly tended to preserve Bali as a reservation where the past was cherished. This left a decisive role for the traditional rulers, who did not have a reputation to promote the well-being of their subjects. The Dutch made Bali a show-piece, and foreign visitors, artists, and tourists were ready to declare their admiration. But, in fact, there was widespread discontent, in particular among the Balinese nationalist pemuda. The colonial government took harsh measures to silence protest. It militarized the police and with the help of a formidable array of suppressive measures it turned the colony of Bali into a police state for its pro-Indonesia activists. In this capacity, the government could count upon the traditional rulers. The Japanese occupation exacerbated the general atmosphere. Internal disagreements, militancy, the formation of military organizations and political mobilization all contributed to feelings of urgency that became stronger in the interlude between the Japanese surrender and the return of the Dutch.

In the realm of Gianyar, a new ruler was installed in 1943: Ide Anak Agung Gede Agung (1921–1999), who was to play a central role in political developments in Bali and the Negara Indonesia Timur (NIT). Hoek appropriately calls him a Balinese Machiavelli. His main object was to retain power in the hands of the Balinese royalty, and to achieve this he was ready to resort to political action and intrigue as well as military interference. Thus after 1945 he sided with the Dutch and with his own armed unit he rounded up his adversaries and interned them. Thus, he caused the death of dozens of his fellow-Balinese, as a result of torture and prison conditions, even taking part himself in this ill-treatment. Hoek bases these accusations on Dutch military reports, Indonesian written sources, and interviews. Indonesian historiography of the Revolution is not always reliable, and has to be weighed carefully before being admitted. Historians have to be constantly aware of the time, place, and background of their sources, and have to share their opinions, doubts, and choices with their readership. This is still more the case when a prominent politician like Anak Agung, who in 2007 was elevated to the rank of Pahlawan Nasional (National Hero) is involved.

Anyway, when the first Allied troops landed, they soon became involved in heavy armed action and guerrilla resistance—widely different from the idyllic prospects they expected to find. It all resulted in a bitter fight for control. The Dutch, supported by Anak Agung, began a reign of terror, which soon resulted in the massive use of extreme violence, transgressing all boundaries of the laws of war. Bali in this respect conforms to and strengthens the argument of Petra Groen in Krijgsgeweld en kolonie (discussed above). The Dutch fought against the Republican army, led by Ngurah Rai. In November 1946, after a long pursuit, Ngurah Rai was encircled and massacred by the Dutch, with the help of airpower. Thus, the complete unit of 96 military was killed, in what became called as the Puputan Margarana. Ngurah Rai became a Pahlawan Nasional, with his name commemorated in airfields, roads, schools, and other public buildings. In his name, the guerrilla war continued but it no longer posed a serious threat, although extreme violence was applied as before. Anak Agung considered the Puputan as an affirmation of royal power. The road was now open to fulfill his ambition to steer the East Indonesian part of the archipelago towards a conservative counterweight of the Indonesian Republic, with guarantees for the lasting influence of the royalty, including of course his own rulership of Gianyar.

To achieve his goal, he was actively involved in the Malino Conference (May–June 1946), that laid the groundwork for a federal Indonesia, Acting Governor General Van Mook’s project to retain Dutch presence in Indonesia. The Linggadjati Agreement opened up prospects, resulting in the establishment of the Negara Indonesia Timur (NIT, State of East Indonesia) in December 1946. Anak Agung became a minister of Home Affairs, while his father-in-law Soekawati was elected president. With Dutch assistance Anak Agung strengthened his grip on Bali. He eliminated the pro-Republican forces by legal means and by violence. Eruptions of violence and excesses continued to take place. In NIT, Anak Agung built up his power basis. In December 1947 he became the NIT Prime Minister. He saw the Dutch as being on the losing side, and changed sides, now defending the Republican cause, to the chagrin of the Dutch. The Republic was somewhat suspicious about this volte-face, but for tactical reasons joined hands with Anak Agung, who cleverly maneuvered the NIT and in particular himself into an indispensable liaison between the Dutch and the Republic. Thus, in the end, it looked like Anak Agung had won a special place for traditional power on Bali, thanks to clever opportunism, which had him enter alliances with the Dutch, the Japanese, and at last the Republic. As a minister for Home Affairs in the first cabinet of the Federal Republic of Indonesia (RIS) he looked to be in a secure position to protect the interests of the nobility. The untimely implosion of the RIS prevented this, with Anak Agung sent as an ambassador to Europe. He was thus out of direct contact with Bali, where the bloody internal struggle lingered on for many years.

Anne-Lot Hoek worked for six years on this project and has collected an impressive amount of material relating to the Revolution. She interviewed 120 people about their experiences. They must all have been in their late eighties and older. With such a long time span between events and narration by witnesses, caution as to the reliability of the information is necessary. Hoek needed an interpreter to communicate with her interviewees, which may also hamper the exchange of information. But, if no other source is available, the source may be used along with a warning and an explanation concerning its background. The same warning is also valid for written sources, of which it may be said that the more recent they are, the more suspicion they merit. A particular case is of course that of Anak Agung. I already mentioned Hoek’s negative appraisal, going as far as making him responsible for many murders. However, this information was not commonly known when Ide Agung was proposed as a potential Pahlawan Nasional.

A candidate to become a Pahlawan Nasional is the subject of thorough research by a committee of historians. Generally, the elevation to Pahlawan is proposed by family or the inhabitants of the region the candidate originates from. Were his anti-Republican activities on Bali in 1945–1946 unknown at that time? Anyhow, he was made a Pahlawan in 2007. As such, he is included in the yearly government publication Profil Pahlawan Nasional, with a short biography detailing the merits of all the Pahlawan. What is related on Anak Agung are his activities in 1948 and 1949 to support the Republic, breaking with the Dutch, following his ‘politics of synthesis.’ His scholarly publications are also mentioned. Nothing is said about his pro-Dutch behavior in Bali. Were these unknown at the time or simply pushed aside? Anyhow, the rank of Pahlawan cannot be rescinded. Thus Tan Malaka and Alimin are there, along with Fatimah Siti Hartinah Soeharto, and also Anak Agung, however negative historians may come to judge him.

To sum up, Hoek has done a fine job, and for the first time has written a comprehensive account of the course of the Revolution on Bali. It will be an indispensable guide for anyone wanting to know its forgotten or suppressed details. Her conclusions appear to be valid, although one occasionally wishes that a bit more caution were added.

One last remark concerns the editorial care as to the notes. These number 2,500, and are included after the text on pp. 593–694. If a reader wants to consult a particular note, his ordeal starts. In the header the number of a chapter is not included, so readers have to check this number by consulting the contents. Next, they have to take a dive into the notes, leaf through these to find a number and chapter, and from there they have to leaf again to arrive at the note they looked for. It is annoying, and an insult both to author and reader. The solution is easy and commonly used in Anglo-Saxon scholarly publications. A few hours work is all that is necessary: include on each page in the headers in the notes section: ‘notes to pp. xx’ the pages on which these note numbers appeared. For an example: Tim Harper, Underground Asia (London, 2020).


Profil 169 Pahlawan Nasional (1959–2016). Jakarta: Kementerian Sosial Republik Indonesia, 2017, iv + 613 pp.

Nanneke Wigard and Jim Worung, Ombak Maluku: Molukkers ongewild naar Nederland. N.p.: Stichting Ombak Maluku/MalukuXperience, 2021, 287 pp. ISBN: 9789075626100, price: EUR 39.95 (hardback).

In the wake of the bitter decolonization war between the Indonesian Republic and the Dutch, which concluded with the transfer of sovereignty by the Dutch on December 27, 1949, a number of unsettled questions remained. There were the postponed matters of West New Guinea and the sensitive status of Indonesian KNIL military, quite a number of whom were of Moluccan origin. They were not welcome in the Indonesian army. After disbanding the federal state of East Indonesia, the situation in Makassar and Ambon became very unruly, with the KNIL military fighting the Indonesian army and supporting the newly proclaimed South Moluccan Republic (RMS). In a complicated play of forces, at last there was no other ‘temporary’ solution than to send the Moluccan KNIL military to the Netherlands. Thus, between March and June 1950, 4,000 military, accompanied by their families, adding up to a total of 12,900 people, were shipped in twelve transports, never to return, and now numbering about 70,000.

Ombak Maluku tells the story of the 1950 developments, and next the journey and the arrival in the Netherlands, where the military were demobilized and accommodated with their families in about 90 primitive barrack camps. Ombak Maluku is for the greater part based on sixty interviews with eyewitnesses, of whom only a limited number are still alive. The oral information is supplemented by archival research. The first of the three parts of this publication, on the causes of the Moluccan trajectories, does not completely succeed in explaining the complicated developments leading up the journey to the Netherlands—and neither did a substantial number of other publications on the subject. The parts on the ocean journey and the far from heartily welcome tell exhaustively how life was on board the steamers and what a blow the dismissal upon disembarkation from the KNIL meant—it caused a trauma that lasted for decades. The authors have collected an abundance of information, and have included it all. Thus all Moluccans now in the Netherlands can find out what this generation, their children, and grandchildren have experienced. Thus, this is a publication especially directed at the Moluccan community in the Netherlands, and an indispensable aid in finding a partly new identity. The publication clearly worked out, as within a few months a reprint was necessary. The book, in a fine format and lavishly illustrated, thus deserves lots of praise. One point of critique: to serve its purpose, an index would have been helpful to allow the Moluccan readers to easily find references to their own family and relatives.

Rick Honings, Coen van ’t Veer and Jacqueline Bel (eds), De postkoloniale spiegel: De Nederlands-Indische letteren herlezen. Leiden: Leiden University Press, 2021, 536 pp. ISBN: 9789087283735, price: EUR 49.50 (hardback).

De postkoloniale spiegel is the ambitious result of the attempt to develop a new approach to the interpretation and analysis of the Indies literature, and thus bring it up to date to the research in and on other colonies. There have been efforts to do so on individual authors and books, but rather haphazardly. Said’s pathbreaking ideas have been followed and developed and are now applied for the first time on a wider comparative basis and with an editorial team providing coherence. (The small publication of De Groene on the subject I consider to be more or less a failure.) Basically what was asked for was a self-critical approach towards the literary colonial past, and added to this, knowledge and insight in circumstances described in the books. This postcolonial analysis goes against the grain and its rereading leads to the discovery of violence, racism, oppression, and exclusion. What does it yield for all the known names high in the pantheon? The selection results in 26 chapters with 27 authors (14 female and 13 male). The essays are grouped in three sections: nineteenth century (seven), 1900–1945 (eight), and post 1945 (eleven). There are 25 authors, of whom 15 are female and 10 are male. The selection of authors starts with Multatuli. Almost all of them are explicitly and implicitly racist, with Daum as a worst case, and Couperus, in a revealing essay, exonerated as a prophet of colonial downfall, caused by decadence. The second section contains some great names, but they are nonetheless infected by colonial prejudice: Augusta de Wit, Székely-Lulofs, Beb Vuyk, and also the two Indonesian authors who wrote in Dutch: Suwarsih Djojopuspito and Arti Purbani. They discriminate towards the mass of the Javanese population, for whom they were expected to alleviate their sufferings. And in fact, their actions were not considered incompatible with nationalist agitation. Post-1945 authors, when measured against the yardstick of colonial motivations, show far more variety in coping with prejudice. The theme of Indo descent is prominent, and may even be turned into a positive asset, as in the case of Tjalie Robinson/Vincent Mahieu and Alfred Birney. Here, explanation sometimes becomes a tortuous construction, with an increase of jargon along with it. The choice of authors to be subject to this post-colonial exercises is unfortunately restricted to only two newcomers: Hindericus Scheepstra (1859–1913), an author of primary school books, and Dido Michielsen (1957), who produced a novel written from a nyai’s piont of view. It would have been interesting to include chapters on, for instance, E.F.E. Douwes Dekker (1879–1950), who wrote Het boek van Siman de Javaan: Een roman van rijst, dividend en menschelijkheid, the completely forgotten Adolf ter Haghe (pseudonym of J.A. Koch, 1900–1946), who wrote Iboe Indonesia, and Johan Koning (1887–1946), author of Het verloren land, all three of whom have an indigenous Indonesian as their main character.

Rick Honings and Olf Praamstra (eds), Louis Couperus, De stille kracht. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, 116 pp. ISBN: 9789463723954, price: EUR 8.99 (paperback).

In De postkoloniale spiegel reviewed above, Couperus’ novel De stille kracht is of course one subject of analysis, which offers a surprising insight: it is still being read. This edition is especially meant to interest a young audience, the higher classes of secondary schools, to read, enjoy, and interpret this tragic story. The editors are there to assist by abridging the text, adding explanations of uncommon words, and presenting special paragraphs to explain specific features of the colonial society, in particular the relationship between the Dutch rulers and the indigenous elite. In my opinion, the editors have succeeded in making the text accessible for a new audience.

Gerard Termorshuizen and Coen van ’t Veer, Door de ogen van Dodo Berretty: Het leven van een vergeten fotograaf. Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 166 pp. ISBN: 9789462498143, price: EUR 19.99 (paperback).

In 2018, the authors published Een groots en meeslepend leven: Dominique Berretty—Indisch persmagnaat. In the course of their research, they came across Dodo Berretty, born in 1935 during his father’s fourth (of six) marriages. After his father died in a plane crash, his education was a haphazard affair, and Dodo became rather unruly. During the German occupation he became engaged in dangerous activities of the Dutch resistance. He was arrested and jailed and next held in a German concentration camp from January 1944 until his liberation. He voluntarily enlisted with the Dutch shock troops destined to restore Dutch order in the Dutch Indies. After training, he arrived in Indonesia, first in Sorong on New Guinea, and next posted in Bali and Palembang. Disillusioned, he left the Netherlands and Indonesia behind him and started a successful career as a photographer in Paris, where he ranked among the best in his profession, working for Paris Match and Life. In this biography, about fifty pages tell the story of Berretty’s direct involvement with Indonesia. Indirectly, of course, the country played a role. As might be expected, his biographers have expertly told an interesting life story.

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