Dutch Culture Overseas: Colonial Practice in the Netherlands Indies, 1900-1942
European colonial expansion led to Dutch notions of civilised society, or the Dutch's community's flexible and relatively charitable attitudes toward 'others', being scattered (as in the Greek word 'diaspeirein') to the four corners of the earth. In some cases, the exportation of Dutch cultural values to places overseas, like North America, endowed 'Dutchness' with subtle new meanings. But in colonial Indonesia, Dutch political customs and traditions were transformed in the process of migrating to exotic locales.
In this book, Frances Gouda examines the ways in which the Netherlands portrayed its unique colonial style to the outside world. Why were citizens of a small and politically insignificant European nation able to represent as natural and normal their dominance over ancient civilizations on islands such as Java and Bali? How did Dutch colonial residents explain the cultural differences between themselves and the supposedly 'primitive' peoples of the Indonesian archipelago?
In trying to understand the 'gendering' practices of colonial governance in the Netherlands East Indies, Gouda also explores the interactions of Dutch and Indonesian women with European men.
About the Author FRANCES GOUDA earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1980. She is currently professor of history and gender studies in the Political Science Department of the University of Amsterdam.
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Why were citizens of a small and politically insignificant European nation like the Netherlands able to represent as natural and normal their paternalistic dominance over ancient civilizations in places such as Java and Bali? How did 'ethical' twentieth century residents of the Dutch East Indies see their idealistic efforts to nurture, tutor and instruct Indonesians in the direction of maturity and, perhaps, eventual autonomy? Gouda searches for answers to these and other deceptively simple questions. In general, she examines ways in which the Netherlands articulated and portrayed its unique colonial style to the outside world. THE FOCUS of Frances Gouda's book is on colonial colonial rather than on policy. Her aim is to show how culture colonial colonial differed both from that of other colonial powers and from culture culture at home. Thus the reader will learn little about economic policies or political structures from this book but a great deal about the way that Dutch colonialists envisaged and promoted what they were doing as colonial rulers. In this respect, the last substantial chapter of the book provides the most imaginative and unusual presentation of the theme: it depicts the Dutch colonial exhibit at the International Colonial Exposition in Paris in 1931. The Dutch had carefully and at great expense erected an elaborate building which combined elements of different architectures of their colony, and filled it with examples of the artifacts of different regions. The intention was to show that the Dutch were learned and respectful colonial rulers: unlike their French hosts in particular, the colonial were committed to preserving and accommodating the diverse cultures of their subjects. In the process, however, the exhibit necessarily presented an artificial and invented set of traditions, of a kind which the author cleverly compares with the present Taman Mini Indah Indonesia in Jakarta: a showcase of Indonesian traditions selected to cast the ruling power in the best possible light. And overnight, the Paris exhibit burnt down, reduced to nothing as the author claims happened to colonial cultural influence after the Indonesian Revolution a decade and a half later. Other chapters in the book dwell on the Dutch "infatuation" with aristocratic traditions in Indonesia and their attempt to use them as templates for policies affecting the population at large, thus leading to inappropriate and contradictory treatment of common people. This works well in her discussion of policies for educating Indonesian girls, and again there are intriguing echoes in New Order gender policies. I found the chapters on Dutch Orientalism, the attempts to explain the backwardness and "otherness" of the Indonesians, and on gender, race and sexuality, more laboured and producing little that is new. At its best, however, this is a stimulating read, which serves to raise and tackle important questions about how the Netherlands perceived and explained what they were doing in the Indies.
Review: Dutch Culture Overseas: Colonial Practice in the Netherlands Indies, 1900-1942User Review - Goodreads
I liked her way of discussing imperial memory. She deals with familiar themes like women, sexuality, unruly child discourse, objectification of primitive tribes from the colonizer's point of view ...