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Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-colonial Indonesia

Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-colonial Indonesia

Edited by Susie Protschky
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-colonial Indonesia
    Book Description:

    The essays in this volume examine, from a historical perspective, how contested notions of modernity, civilization, and being governed were envisioned through photography in early twentieth-century Indonesia, a period when the Dutch colonial regime was implementing a liberal reform program known as the Ethical Policy. The contributors reveal how the camera evoked diverse, often contradictory modes of envisioning an ethically governed colony, one in which the very concepts of modernity and civilization were subject to dispute.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2338-2
    Subjects: Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Part I Governing Lenses on Ethical Policy and Practice

    • 1 Camera Ethica Photography, modernity and the governed in late-colonial Indonesia
      (pp. 11-40)
      Susie Protschky

      “Ethical Policy” (Ethische Politiek) is the term frequently used by historians to indicate the suite of liberal-developmentalist reforms debated and implemented by Dutch colonial elites in early-twentieth-century Indonesia (c. 1901-42), then the Netherlands East Indies. The reforms have a well-established intellectual history in the Dutch-language literature, where their social and cultural trajectory has conventionally been traced through the words and texts of (mainly Dutch) elites.¹ Yet despite the Ethical Policy’s ideological resonance and temporal coincidence with other forms of European liberal imperialism – notably the “white man’s burden” of the Anglophone world and the Frenchmission civilisatrice– the Dutch program in...

    • 2 Ethical policies in moving pictures The films of J.C. Lamster
      (pp. 41-70)
      Jean Gelman Taylor

      There were as many dimensions to the Ethical Policy as there were proponents. Indeed it was a complex of ideas, a set of related policies characterising a thought world. The term “Ethical Policy” is peculiarly associated with Pieter Brooshooft (1845-1921), whose booklet by that name was published in Amsterdam in 1901.¹ In it Brooshooft outlined a colonial policy whose guiding principles should be: separation of the colony’s finances and governance from the Netherlands; primacy of indigenous interests in all policy formulation; Indies government management of the economy; increased numbers of Western-educated Javanese in the bureaucracy; and greater delegation of responsibility...

    • 3 Ethical projects, ethnographic orders and colonial notions of modernity in Dutch Borneo G.L. Tichelman’s Queen’s Birthday photographs from the late 1920s
      (pp. 71-102)
      Susie Protschky

      In the closing years of the 1920s, Gerard Louwrens Tichelman (1893-1962), a colonial official stationed in the southeast of Dutch Borneo (present-day Kalimantan), assembled three family photograph albums filled with diverse scenes from his daily personal and working life.¹ Recurring throughout these albums were images of celebrations forKoninginnedag, or Queen’s (Birth) Day, an event that many other Europeans in the Netherlands Indies also commemorated in family photographs during the early twentieth century. Despite the frequency of such images, and the acknowledged political and cultural significance of Queen’s Day festivals in late-colonial Indonesia, this genre of family photographs has largely...

    • 4 Saving the children? The Ethical Policy and photographs of colonial atrocity during the Aceh War
      (pp. 103-130)
      Paul Bijl

      In the spring of 1904, less than three years after Queen Wilhelmina’s famous exhortation that the Dutch should answer a moral calling with respect to the peoples of the Netherlands Indies, the Dutch colonial army made eight photographs depicting the mass deaths that resulted from its assaults on a number of fortified villages on the island of Sumatra.¹ One of the most arresting aspects of these photographs is a number of surviving infants that sit between the dead bodies of their family members and neighbours, while above and around them soldiers are posing for the photographer.

      I argue in this...

  5. Part II Local Lenses on Living in an “ Ethical” Indies

    • 5 Interracial unions and the Ethical Policy The representation of the everyday in Indo-European family photo albums
      (pp. 133-162)
      Pamela Pattynama

      In 2008 a collection of photographs known as the IWI collection (Indisch Wetenschappelijk Instituut, or Indies Scientific Institute) was donated to the state-sponsored, anthropological Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. Interweaving private memory and public history, this addition to the large archive already accumulated in Dutch museums connects the colonial past and the postcolonial present and future. The more than 60,000 photographs brought together in about 550 albums were taken in the Netherlands Indies (now Indonesia) and belonged to families who lived during the period of the Ethical Policy. The majority of the collection consists of amateur snapshots and captures so-called Indo-European families,...

    • 6 Reversing the lens Kartini’s image of a modernised Java
      (pp. 163-194)
      Joost Coté

      Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879-1904), generally known for her advocacy of the emancipation of Javanese women, is an iconic figure in the history of the socalled “ethical period” in the Netherlands Indies. Born into an old Javanese dynasty that had developed a long association with the Dutch colonial regime, Kartini was brought up in a household which both benefited from and was critical of colonialism. Part of a second generation of a Javanese elite family that consciously sought out Western education, she reflected the new sense of nationalist consciousness emerging in such circles. Asserting the right of Javanese to access Western...

    • 7 Modelling modernity Ethnic Chinese photography in the ethical era
      (pp. 195-222)
      Karen Strassler

      An illustration in John Pemberton’sOn the Subject of “Java”shows a mail order catalogue from 1928 in which the ethnic Chinese owner of the business is pictured modelling, on front and back cover respectively, the ready-made “Javanese” and “Dutch”-style clothes he markets to Javanese aristocrats.¹ Despite the different costumes, the two photographs appear as mirror images – the same background but reversed, the figure facing in opposing directions – as if a single negative had been flipped. Pemberton’s argument concerns the emergence of the subject of “Java” in the age of mechanical reproduction: a replicable figure available for identification and exemplified...

    • 8 Modernity and middle classes in the Netherlands Indies Cultivating cultural citizenship
      (pp. 223-254)
      Henk Schulte Nordholt

      The Ethical Policy, which the colonial administration in the Netherlands Indies adopted as a guideline at the beginning of the 20th century, was not only aimed at uplifting and developing “native” society: it went hand in hand with large-scale military expeditions. The Dutch mission to bring “modern civilisation” to the archipelago was based on the idea that the “uplifting” of the population could only be achieved by establishing firm colonial control. Therefore, the Dutch “white man’s burden”, ormission civilisatrice,was in large parts of the archipelago accompanied by intimidating violence, creating a regime of fear that resonated in local...

    • 9 Say “cheese” Images of captivity in Boven Digoel (1927-43)
      (pp. 255-280)
      Rudolf Mrázek

      Several prominent scholar-officials of the Netherlands Indies – the best known among them, B.J.O. Schrieke (1890-1945) – had been instrumental in the discussions about, process of creating and implementation of the overall principles of Boven Digoel, the prison camp for political dissidents that was established by the colonial regime in New Guinea. J.A.C. Dirk de Graeff (1872-1957, r. 1927-31), the last Governor-General connected with the Ethical Policy, oversaw Boven Digoel’s beginnings. Two persons arguably most representative of the late “ethical” approach to governing the Indies, H.J. van Mook (1894-1965, r. 1942-48) and Charles O. van der Plas (1891-1977), authored probably the most...