AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 315

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Session 315: The Age of Commerce in the Longe Durée: Local Indentities and State Powers in the Modern Era

Organizer: Caty Husbands, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Chair: James F. Warren, Murdoch University, Australia

While Anthony Reid’s Age of Commerce Thesis has been challenged for its applicability to Mainland Southeast Asia, for the most part, scholars have, for the most part, accepted the validity of the central features of the thesis to Island Southeast Asia. By the end of the Age of Commerce, the relationship between Southeast Asians and Europeans had changed, from one of parity, even power on the part of Southeast Asians, to a subordinate one, as many of the countries in the region had been colonized by 1800. The papers in this panel examine how watershed changes at the end of the Age of Commerce created states and organizations that had long-term effects on local identities. In the first, Jim Warren explores how the identities and bonds of former slaves in the Sulu Zone shifted with a shift in their masters: from the Sulu Sultanate to (Catholic) Spanish colonial officials. In the second paper, Akira Oki describes how Javanese responded to Dutch medical intervention in the late colonial. Not merely as story of Western science vs. “traditional” practices, Oki demonstrates that both perspectives reveal much about the respective groups’ constructions of realities. Caty Greene Husbands’ paper picks up where Oki’s left off, exploring how local identity in the island of Flores was structured not simply by the (Catholic) faith of the people, but by the Catholic Church’s expert use of print media to foster a uniquely localized national identity that equated being Indonesian with Catholicism. Where the first three papers examine locals’ relationships with the state and its prescribed religion, George Teodoro’s paper explores how Acehnese groups negotiate their relationships with non-state religious organizations, in Indonesia and outside of Indonesia. The flashpoint in Teodoro’s study of the long-term development of Acehnese identity is the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004 and the examples of how two Catholic NGOS worked with the Acehnese to co-ordinate their aid programs, suggesting that the relative success of these relationships reveal a working understanding of independent Acehnese identity. These papers are linked by a long duree analysis on the development of local identities as inhabitants adapt to, confront, co-opt, and/or resist state power. There are no formal discussants but active participation from the audience is encouraged.

Love and Hate of Southeast Asia to the West: Ambivalence of Indonesian people toward Western medicine in the colonial era"
Akira Oki, Meiji Gakuin University, Japan

From the early years of its administration, the Dutch colonial government introduced a variety of medical policies based on Western medicine into Java. Among these policies were smallpox vaccination and injections more generally, and (post-mortem) spleen punctures to determine cause of death, and other “soft” health policies. Some of these policies met with strong resistance from the Javanese, in part because of local and Islamic aversion to cause injury to the body. The Dutch who promulgated and carried out these policies, however, they represented these medical interventions reflected faith in science and technology. While representing their perspective as modern and non-religious, the Dutch proponents of Western medicine ignored precisely how their own medical theories reflected their (Christian) world views. Medicine involves broad issues including view of life, religious beliefs, long-continued customs, culture, and sometimes even economic considerations. In this paper, we discuss ambivalent and sometimes eve contradicting attitudes of people to Western medicine. It is of note that, such attitudes are not the monopoly of Indonesian people during the colonial era. Similar complicated attitudes can also be seen in our modern society since the so-called modern scientific Western medicine, which claims itself to be "the world standard," is not a perfect one but it still has positive and negative aspects.

God and Nation: Catholicism and the Emergence of Indonesian National Identities on the Island of Flores, Eastern Indonesia
Caty Husbands, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

The only island with a Catholic majority in Indonesia, Flores occupies a unique space in the nation’s history. This paper explores the modern history of Flores and examines how Catholicism affected emerging national identities on the island during the period 1920-1955. The Catholic Church essentially controlled all aspects of print media, education, and national politics on the island from the earliest days of Flores’ integration into the Dutch East Indies. This widespread control of these fundamental building blocks of national identity formation led to a fusion of Catholicism and national identity in the definitive years leading up to, and just after, Indonesia’s independence. Though Catholicism first came to Flores in the earliest days of the Age of Commerce, it was not until the early twentieth century that Catholicism became the primary venue for access to formal education, print media, and employment within the colonial bureaucracy. In the early twentieth century, the Dutch colonial government took an active interest in controlling the island of Flores, at least indirectly. They turned to the Catholic Church to facilitate this indirect control. Initially a Jesuit mission, followed by The Society of the Divine Word, Catholic clergy built an education system, and a Florenese, Catholic-educated elite gradually emerged. These elite saw themselves far more as members of a Catholic world, where the center was Rome, rather than a colonial world where the center was Batavia. After independence, it was through the National Catholic Party that many of these elites associated with the newly independent Indonesia, and a fundamentally Florenese, Catholic, national identity emerged.

Ransom, Escape and Debt: Emancipation and its Legacy of indebtedness in the Sulu Zone
James F. Warren, Murdoch University, Australia

This paper will examine the origin and relationship of debt to a flourishing captive exchange economy in the Sulu Zone; an economy through which slaves gained their freedom from the Sulu Sultanate within and among Spanish colonial communities throughout the Philippines from the end of the eighteenth to the end of the nineteenth century. But the former slaves or captives beyond their freedom, frequently acquired a debt in the process of their exchange and emancipation, and a new relation to the land or vessel they suddenly worked on, to their 'new masters' or redeemers, namely the colonial officials ,ship captains or local personages they worked for , and to the colonial government they now lived under, once again. Muslim and Spanish colonial traditions of servitude met and meshed in the aftermath of emancipation as a direct consequence of either the act of ransom or escape. A system of servitude and transportation was formed whereby the emancipated slave or former captive became part of a dependent work force because of a debt incurred to pay the ransom and /or a safe passage home, performing services for their new masters and producing material goods until the debt was repaid. Slave trading among Taosug, Iranun and Balangingi, and, Spaniards, provided labor resources, redistributed wealth , and fostered kinship connections that helped to integrate seemingly antagonistic groups even as these practices further encouraged cycles of violence and slave raiding. In this context ,indebtedness in the aftermath of emancipation must be viewed as one of the corrosive effects of the 'slave trade' on Muslim and Spanish colonial societies in the Philippines.

Two Models of Catholic-Muslim Cooperation: Catholic NGO Responses to the Tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia, 2004-2005
George D. Teodoro, University of Toronto, USA

This paper analyzes the responses of two Catholic NGOs – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) – to the unique challenges presented by the tsunami which devastated Aceh in 2004. Presented in two parts, the first recounts the history of multiple levels of conflicts experienced in Aceh for the past century: center-periphery, Muslim-Christian, and Acehnese-Western. Both CRS and JRS found themselves treading along all three of these fault lines. Building on Anthony Reid’s longue durée analyses of conflict in Aceh, I situate these NGOs not just in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, but also as the inheritors of 100 years of open conflict and uneasy peace between Acehnese and the outside world. The second part analyzes the different strategies of CRS and JRS in negotiating these challenges, finding ways to work with Muslim partner organizations to deliver aid to persons displaced not only by the tsunami, but also by the civil war which preceded it. CRS worked at a national level with Jakarta-based Muslim organizations to smooth over animosities and stereotypes in order to deliver aid to disaster-affected persons. Meanwhile, the smaller JRS worked with local imams on a village-by-village basis to establish credibility as an aid provider. While the differing approaches led to varying levels of efficiency in delivering aid, both organizations proved effective at delivering aid through cooperation with Muslim partners. These models of Catholic-Muslim cooperation could prove instructive for other Christian NGOs seeking to deliver aid in disaster and/or post-conflict areas that are predominantly Muslim.