Danilyn Rutherford, Professor and Chair, Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz
Colonialism in the Netherlands Indies was a matter of maps and censuses, plantations and planning documents, the control of land and labor, and the pursuit of national pride. But it was also a matter of minor meetings — awkward encounters on lonely beaches and sleepy villages, stumbled into by disruptive strangers who claimed control over their surroundings but were never quite at home. Strangers who were both guests, who had to stay in the good graces of the people whose lives they were disrupting, and hosts, who were intent on welcoming these very people into a new and supposedly better world. The Indies’ furthest reaches at the “edge” of Islam were no exception. The western half of New Guinea began its colonial career as a backwater of the Indies. But in the 1950s, against the protests of leaders of the newly independent Indonesian republic, the Dutch retained the region as a self-standing colony. To understand why the Dutch remained longer in New Guinea than in any other part of the colony, we need the big picture provided by the growing literature on colony policy and practice. But we also need small snapshots of the on-the-ground interactions from which this colonial order was made. These interactions happened in zones of contact that were at the same time zones of hospitality: spaces where the colonized and the colonizers both welcomed and kept each other at bay.
UC Santa Cruz
No recent activity