Although the letters that the Javanese woman Kartini (1879-1904) wrote in Dutch have since 1911 been translated into eight languages and appropriated in Asian and Western contexts worldwide, they have remained outside the Dutch literary canon. Being Javanese but writing in Dutch, Kartini was hardly studied by scholars of Dutch or Indonesian literature. A notable exception is the work of Joost Coté. This project remedies this situation through the comparative study of the transcultural appropriations of Kartini’s letters since 1911.
This project aims to understand the impact of Indonesia’s democratization process on everyday state-citizen interaction. To what extent is Indonesia’s democratic transition changing the way ordinary Indonesians relate to the state in terms of citizenship? How can we explain both the changes and the continuities?
Through a combination of ethnographic fieldwork with an expert survey, this project studies and compares clientelistic politics across Indonesia.
Led by Henk Schulte Nordholt and (from August 2014 onwards) Dr Jacqueline Vel, this projects aims to coordinate three separate projects funded by the Dutch Indonesian SPIN Program: (1) Social and economic effects of partnering for sustainable change in agricultural commodity chains, coordinated by Prof. Pieter Glasbergen, Maastricht University and Prof. Bustanul Arifin, Agribusiness University of Lampung; (2) Local and regional dimensions in Indonesia’s social and economic development: a governance approach, coordinated by Prof. Henri de Groot, VU University Amsterdam and Prof. Ari Kuncoro, University of Indonesia; (3) From clients to citizens? Emerging citizenship in democratizing Indonesia, coordinated by Prof Gerry van Klinken and Prof Henk Schulte Nordholt (KITLV Leiden) and Prof Bambang Purwanto, UGM Yogyakarta.
How did political reforms and intensive migrations affect historically grounded identities and political practices on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, and Saba? This project seeks to answer this question by integrating multiple disciplines to analyze governance and identity in small-scale polities, with a particular focus on non-sovereignty, migration, and (sustainable) development.
Between 1945 and 1950, Dutch military forces engaged with Indonesian military, paramilitary and guerrilla groups in a protracted war that ultimately led to Indonesian independence. The at times extremely violent nature of this war has continued to inspire heated debates in Dutch society, though more often than not the political sensitivity of the subject has led to discussion being shut down rapidly. Partly as a consequence, many aspects of the violence perpetrated during this conflict – by both sides – are still highly understudied, especially when compared to massive post-colonial Indonesian violence (1965-1966) or to other decolonization wars.
This project uses cutting edge computational techniques to automatically extract and visualise Indonesian political elite networks from over a million digitised newspaper articles. Initially conceived to trace patterns of elite networks over periods of regime transition in Indonesia, it asks: How sociologically meaningful are these computational networks and how do they compare to traditional analyses of regime change? What other interesting sociological questions are amenable to the same set of techniques?
The fifth largest island in the Indonesian archipelago, Sulawesi has a remarkable archaeological and historical record that makes it one of the world’s best natural laboratories for the study of the development of complex societies. Political centralization and associated social and cultural developments began some three centuries before the arrival of Europeans. In South Sulawesi these processes were recorded in indigenous languages and styles starting around the start of the sixteenth century. At this point, oral traditions were also recorded using the indigenous scripts for a full century prior to conversion to Islam. Thus early modern South Sulawesi provides an exceptional window on the historical world of the Austronesians.
Historical analyses have suggested a significant relationship between missions and European overseas expansion, and between missions and the development of the idea of a Greater Britain, a Greater France and a Greater Netherlands. This project uses a biographical method that studies the relation between religion and empire. Within the scope of a biography on Isaak Samuel Kijne, a Dutch Protestant missionary in New Guinea, it investigates the relation between Protestant mission and ethnicity, Papua languages and cultures, education, colonial administration, Catholic mission, decolonisation and nationalism.
‘Transformation of Religions as Reflected in Javanese Texts’, a joint project of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and KITLV, aims at analyzing texts that may help to clarify religious change in Java between the 9th and 19th centuries. The project includes the building of a database of Javanese and Old Javanese texts while also a number of international seminars will be held.
The project ‘Leprosy and Empire’ asks why leprosy policies in Suriname and the Dutch East Indies were so different even though they were both part of the same colonial empire. What exactly were the differences, and what are the main causes of these differences? The project will result in two books, one on Suriname and one on the Dutch East Indies, and a comparative article focusing on the main research question.
This project seeks to explain the similarities and differences in (post)colonial Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana by using a comparative matrix of colonial cultural and social policies and postcolonial legacies. All three were at the margins of empire. Great Britain and France were undisputed global powers, while the Netherlands was a major colonial power but politically insignificant. The question is how this marginality and difference in power manifested itself in social and cultural policies in colonial and postcolonial times. Taken the colonial encounters into account, how were their postcolonial legacies formed? What explains the different outcomes? And what will their (international) roles be in 2020?
This project is the first attempt to systematically examine the Javanese diaspora as a global phenomenon. It aims at tracing the origins and analyzing the developments of this diaspora across time and space, covering precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial times and zooming in on Javanese communities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. It targets the mostly forced and often traumatic dispersion of Javanese across and within state borders, the connections they developed with Java as a real or imagined authoritative source of norms, values, and loyalties, and the stand they took when confronted with issues pertaining to social and personal boundaries they wished to establish or uphold in their host environment.
The KITLV houses a unique collection of Sino-Malay literature, consisting of around 1500 books published from 1880 to the mid-1960s. Most of the collection has been digitized as part of the Metamorfoze Project, which has thus far resulted in a corpus of 4080 high-quality OCR’ed pdfs. This valuable collection of primary sources on late-modern Southeast Asia focuses on the region’s substantial population of peranakan or localized Chinese.
The history of the Dutch troops in Suriname during and after World War II is connected with changing colonial relationships beginning with the Atlantic Charter of 1941 and ending with the independence of Suriname on November 25, 1975. This study is based on archival research and oral history.
This project investigates the dynamics of female Islamic leadership in Southeast Asia. Moving beyond the common emphasis on the gendered dimensions of religious texts and their interpretation, I look at the ways in which authoritative women draw upon, and actively construct, particular images of Muslim womanhood.
This largely one-man research project focuses on the history and practice of visual culture in the Anglophone and Dutch Caribbean through the lens of tourism, film and television. The project consists of three subprojects: (1) a book on the history of film in Jamaica and its relation to tourism and empire from the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century; (2) a series of in-depth interviews with Anglophone and Dutch Caribbean filmmakers about their work and career in the context of Caribbean cinema and society; (3) a comparative analysis of the Dutch TV news coverage of the murder cases of Joran van der Sloot in Aruba and Lima.
This project seeks to expand cross-linguistic perspectives in lexical typology by carrying out a detailed comparative investigation of the lexicon in the Papuan languages of the little-known Timor-Alor-Pantar (TAP) family spoken in eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Combining in-depth fieldwork-based study with crosslinguistic comparison using extant materials, the project will examine the diverse evolutionary histories of the lexicon within this family. Changes in the lexicon will be tracked throughout the family in terms of both the forms of lexemes and their meanings in domains reflecting different cognitive, ethnographic, and ecological concerns (such as temperature, quantity, kinship, fauna, landscape and emotions).
Today’s Southeast Asia, including predominantly Islamic Indonesia, has, in museums, scholarship and popular imagination worldwide, become part of a Hindu Buddhist civilization that has its origin in India. This project in preparation investigates, for the period 1880-1980, how knowledge exchange between pilgrims, scholars and hippies has contributed to the shaping of the moral geography of Greater India and the re-sacralization of Hindu-Buddhist antiquities from Indonesia. What was this moral geography about, who became part of it, and who became excluded? And what was the impact of Greater India in (post-)colonial Indonesia?
Henk Schulte Nordholt is writing a history of Southeast Asia for the new World History Series published by Fischer Verlag (Neue Fischer Weltgeschichte). The book offers an overview of the main developments in the field of politics, economy, religion and culture. It will be published in German and is expected to appear in 2017.
In 2003, KITLV initiated this long-term data-generating research project in cooperation with Indonesian partners LIPI (The Indonesian Institute of Sciences) and Offstream Film. The aim is to establish an audiovisual archive of everyday life in Indonesia during the 21st century, and to conduct research on daily life through this archive. To this end recordings are made in Jakarta, Delanggu (Central Java), Payakumbuh (West Sumatra), Kawal (on the island of Bintan), Sintang (West Kalimantan), Bittuang (Tana Toraja on Sulawesi), Ternate, and Surabaya. Every four years recordings are made at the same locations in order to trace changes and continuities.
This is a four-year (2011-2014) joint project of KITLV in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam (NIOD) and the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of University Leiden funded by NWO.
KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies initiates and coordinates innovative research projects on Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. It engages in research that is theoretically informed, compara- tive, and empirically strong. Research on both regions focuses on contemporary developments as well as on historical themes. This page lists the research projects ongoing at KITLV and in collaboration with other departments and institutions.