Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Responding to the West

Responding to the West: Essays on Colonial Domination and Asian Agency

Edited by Hans Hägerdal
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Responding to the West
    Book Description:

    The nine essays of this volume, spanning from the eighteenth to mid-twentieth century, highlight the workings of, and reactions to, colonial domination in Asian contexts. The scholars, which include Victoria Haskins of the University of Newscastle, use a range of social science history methods to explore new paths to colonial history. How were individuals, groups, and social categories able to order their lives in the face of the implementation of external dominance? In other words, what was the agency enabling them to interact with, adapt to, use, counteract and in the end defeat colonialism? The essays emphasize colonialism as a multifaceted historical phenomenon which has taken a number of mutually incompatible forms. The various texts thus reflect on both the "early" colonialism build on indirect and informal practices, and the later forms marked by a high degree of authoritarian control. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0820-4
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. 7-8)
  4. Introduction: New Paths of Colonial History
    (pp. 9-16)
    Hans Hägerdal

    On 26 February 1687, the Dutch yachtNegombodeparted from the roadstead of Batavia, the Asian hub of the still relatively vital and expansive Dutch East India Company, or VOC. On board was the Company official Arend Verhoeven, who had been appointed resident oropperhoofdof the unprofitable trading post of Kupang in West Timor. Verhoeven may have been less than enthusiastic about his promotion; of the last eight residents, six had died of illness at the unhealthy place, and one had been dismissed on complaints from the locals. With him on theNegombowent Dasi,rajaof the small...

  5. The Future of the Past, the Past of the Future: History in Southeast Asia
    (pp. 17-28)
    Vincent Houben

    The future in Southeast Asia is intimately linked to its past as well as its present. Starting from any present anywhere, both the past and the future can only be conceived of in relational terms. One has to imagine overlaps between past and present / present and future or think in the form of forward/backward strings of events, processes and structures condensed into preconditions and consequences. Looking backwards in time has developed into the science of history, while looking forward is often felt as a much more haphazard practice undertaken by non-scientific actors such as politicians, administrative planners and even...

  6. European Adventurers and Changes in the Indian Military System
    (pp. 29-44)
    Ram Krishna Tandon

    Eighteenth-century India witnessed a very significant transitional epoch. The traditional glory and greatness of the Mughals was tottering and about to a fall into a state of degeneration and decay. Peace and stability had been eroded. Centrifugal tendencies began raising their heads and inexorable forces were seen as rapidly converging, one upon the other, leading to an inevitable dissolution. Aurangzeb, the last mighty Mughal, breathed his last in 1707, but during his reign, the Marathas had already raised their heads and he had to fight them for more than 20 years. None of his successors were capable of defending his...

  7. The Exile of the Liurai: A Historiographical Case Study from Timor
    (pp. 45-68)
    Hans Hägerdal

    The methodological problems of writing the history of non-literate societies have been extensively debated since the groundbreaking studies of Jan Vansina in the 1960s. The techniques of obtaining vital sociological and historical information from oral tradition have not least been developed in the study of the African past, where the lack of written sources up to the nineteenth century necessitate the evaluation of this type of material. Vansina himself initially believed that oral tradition, i.e., stories spanning a time perspective beyond living memory, could be judged according to a modification of the sound principles of historical criticism developed by Western...

  8. Africans in Asia: The Discourse of ‘Negritos’ in Early Nineteenth-century Southeast Asia
    (pp. 69-86)
    Sandra Khor Manickam

    After having spent nearly ten years in Southeast Asia, John Crawfurd wrote in 1820 of ‘so unusual a phenomenon’ that there were two indigenous races in Southeast Asia,¹ the ‘brown’ thought to be the original race of the region, and the ‘negro’ who was assumed to be indigenous only to the African continent. The other labels he used in reference to African or African-like people in the region were ‘dwarf African negro’, ‘woolly haired race’ or ‘Papua’ (18-23). Earlier in 1817, Stamford Raffles spoke of a ‘race of blacks entirely distinct from the rest of the population’ found in the...

  9. Women’s Education and Empowerment in Colonial Bengal
    (pp. 87-102)
    Rachana Chakraborty

    The basic aim of this essay is to trace the genesis and development of women’s education in colonial Bengal until the country’s independence in 1947. My investigation begins in the nineteenth century, when the women’s question became a part of the greater discourse of progress and modernity, and a movement for female education started as part of the ‘colonised males’ search for the ‘new woman’. At the outset, the missionaries took up the cause of educating women, as a way of enlightening the poor, heathen women. However, indigenous forces represented by the educated Indian male reformers later on took up...

  10. Her Old Ayah: The Transcolonial Significance of the Indian Domestic Worker in India and Australia
    (pp. 103-116)
    Victoria Haskins

    The historical representation of white women in India and Australia bears a striking similarity: on the one hand, we find the ‘memsahib’ and, on the other, the ‘missus’, with both of them designated by their role not only of wife and mother to white men, but as mistress to native workers. In the case of the former, this designation as mistress is paramount, for, in the nostalgic construction of the British Raj, perhaps no one figure looms quite so large as the cherishedayahor lady’s maid. This paper is a rumination on the significance of this image of the...

  11. The Chinese, the Indians and the French Exchange Control during the French Indochinese War or How to Endure, Fight and Mock the Colonial Power (1945-1954)
    (pp. 117-136)
    Daniel Leplat

    ‘The piastre is not a currency, it is an object of traffic.’ A government official, in the French Ministry of Finance, summed up the whole monetary history of Indochina from 1945 to 1954 in this way.¹

    Whereas the exchange rate of the piastre had been set at FF 17 on 25 December 1945, piastres could soon be found on the Asian markets for the equivalent of FF 3 or FF 10 (FF = French francs). This phenomenon led to multiple arbitrages and caused a stir in France where this ‘ordinary’ Asian speculation became a scandal, because it was through this...

  12. Living the Colonial Lifestyle: Australian Women and Domestic Labour in Occupied Japan 1945-1952
    (pp. 137-150)
    Christine de Matos

    The United States may have dominated control of the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952), but Australia also contributed to the occupation force and occupation control machinery. The aims of the Occupation were to demilitarise and democratise Japan. Australian male military personnel began to arrive in Kure, a city in the Hiroshima prefecture southeast of Hiroshima city, as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) in February and March 1946, where they retained a presence until 1952.² About 45,000³ Australians served overall with BCOF, the most provided by any of the participating Commonwealth nations. The Australian base was in Hiro,...

  13. Decolonisation and the Origin of Military Business in Indonesia
    (pp. 151-166)
    Bambang Purwanto

    Military business has been an attractive theme for foreign and local researchers in the literature on Indonesia, especially those studying Indonesian politics and Indonesian political economy during the New Order (Robison 1986; Muhaimin 1990; Iswandi 1998; Samego et al. 1998; Singh 2001; Widoyoko et al. 2003). The abovementioned studies tend to suggest that military business evolved and operated solely during the New Order, a time of military dominance in the socio-political life of the country. Those who do discuss pre-New Order military business tend to argue that the earliest of Indonesia’s military business occurred no earlier than 1950, and developed...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 167-170)
  15. References
    (pp. 171-182)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 183-184)