The Indonesia Reader

History, Culture, Politics

The Indonesia Reader

The World Readers

More about this series

Book Pages: 488 Illustrations: 46 photos, 2 tables, 1 map, 11 figures Published: March 2009

Asian Studies > Southeast Asia, General Interest > Travel, History > Asian History

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, encompassing nearly eighteen thousand islands. The fourth-most populous nation in the world, it has a larger Muslim population than any other. The Indonesia Reader is a unique introduction to this extraordinary country. Assembled for the traveler, student, and expert alike, the Reader includes more than 150 selections: journalists’ articles, explorers’ chronicles, photographs, poetry, stories, cartoons, drawings, letters, speeches, and more. Many pieces are by Indonesians; some are translated into English for the first time. All have introductions by the volume’s editors. Well-known figures such as Indonesia’s acclaimed novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer and the American anthropologist Clifford Geertz are featured alongside other artists and scholars, as well as politicians, revolutionaries, colonists, scientists, and activists.

Organized chronologically, the volume addresses early Indonesian civilizations; contact with traders from India, China, and the Arab Middle East; and the European colonization of Indonesia, which culminated in centuries of Dutch rule. Selections offer insight into Japan’s occupation (1942–45), the establishment of an independent Indonesia, and the post-independence era, from Sukarno’s presidency (1945–67), through Suharto’s dictatorial regime (1967–98), to the present Reformasi period. Themes of resistance and activism recur: in a book excerpt decrying the exploitation of Java’s natural wealth by the Dutch; in the writing of Raden Ajeng Kartini (1879–1904), a Javanese princess considered the icon of Indonesian feminism; in a 1978 statement from East Timor objecting to annexation by Indonesia; and in an essay by the founder of Indonesia’s first gay activist group. From fifth-century Sanskrit inscriptions in stone to selections related to the 2002 Bali bombings and the 2004 tsunami, The Indonesia Reader conveys the long history and the cultural, ethnic, and ecological diversity of this far-flung archipelago nation.


“[Hellwig and Tagliacozzo] have done an admirable job in their short introductions as well as in the selection of a variety of materials. The range of accounts is praiseworthy. They provide an introduction to so many important aspects of Indonesian culture that they are dazzling in their breadth. . . . The book should be a starting point for further study of the region, and in this regard, it would be an excellent choice for university students, and the interested, who want to learn more about this vast archipelagic state.” — Timothy P. Barnard, Pacific Affairs

“In all, The Indonesian Reader is a largely rewarding set of texts for someone particularly interested in Indonesia’s history. It deserves a place on the shelves of any self-confessed ‘’Indonesianist’ and, with a bit of explanation, could also find a home in those contextualised classrooms that still teach Indonesian language.”
— Damien Kingsbury, Journal of Contemporary Asia

“Reading [this] book is like exploring an eclectic, brightly colored museum-and leaving with a multifaceted understanding of one nation's history and cultures. . . . The primary sources included here are the book's gems; they range from fifth-century stone pillars and writings by travelers throughout many centuries to fiction, newspaper articles, manifestos, and more in the 20th and 21st centuries.” — Library Journal

“What we have here is a wonderful display of the rich diversity in cultural and historical legacies of the Indonesian archipelago. The coverage is most up to date: the final section on the new millennium points to the multifarious problems and challenges which will continue to face the Indonesian nation for many years to come. . . . [T]his is a highly recommendable tool for students and general readers alike.” — Edwin Wieringa, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde

"At the end of 488 pages, the reader must acknowledge that here is an embarrassment of riches, and feel gratitude for the Herculean task Hellwig and Tagliacozzo undertook in discovering a multifaceted Indonesia for us. The Indonesia Reader is a volume to be welcomed, sampled, enjoyed, and assigned.” — Jean Gelman Taylor, Indonesia

“[A]n extraordinary cornucopia of sources that illustrate some of the pivotal and unique moments in Indonesia’s life.” — Laura Noszlopy, IIAS Newsletter

“[I]t is of great value for instructors developing courses that include Indonesia in such fields as history, political science, or Asian studies. Those with a background in Indonesian studies should also enjoy the book, not least because it presents a wide range of viewpoints about the archipelago over time. . . . [T]he editors' cogent introductions for each excerpt help set the materials in context. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic levels/libraries.” — S. Maxim, Choice

“Hellwig and Tagliacozzo . . . have collected a rich, engaging and broad array of sources which reveal Indonesia's distant past and this makes The Indonesia Reader of immense value to historians of all kinds.” — David Jansen, Contemporary Southeast Asia

“This is an excellent debut in a new series of World Readers from Duke University Press. With more than 150 selections, two leading Indonesia scholars have put together an original introduction to Indonesian society, politics, and culture. It achieves variety, yet remains coherent through its thematic selections. The Indonesia Reader is a well-made book in every sense: the translations, about one-fourth of them prepared for this book, are excellent; the contextualization before each selection is sharp yet not overbearing; and the production value is high. . . . [T]his reader will make for rewarding reading.” — Andrew Goss, Journal of World History

“Using narratives of history, culture and politics to approach Indonesia, The Reader provides a stimulating, challenging and provocative portrait presented through texts chosen on either because they pull apart the concept of ‘Indonesia’ or because they strengthen it. . . . The Indonesia Reader is a vital text. It is not only accessible for a generalist audience, but may also provide some more seasoned professionals with new perspectives through the many alternatives to the nationalistic interpretations of Indonesia that it presents.” — Andy Fuller, Inside Indonesia

“What a pleasure to find such an attractive new reader, a boon to anyone who teaches about Indonesia, and for the students and travellers for which it was designed!” — David Reeve, Asian Studies Review

“Tineke Hellwig and Eric Tagliacozzo have woven together a variety of observations across time to help gain some insight into the astonishingly varied story of a fascinating nation. From reflections on the role of interoceanic trade, the flow of world religions, and the fight for independence and, ultimately, a just society, the book offers a key corpus of documents to debate and contextualize.” — Michael Laffan, Princeton University

“With selections including scholarly pieces, manifestoes, interviews, speeches, and inscriptions, this volume captures the long sweep of the Indonesian archipelago’s history while emphasizing its spectacular diversity. This is a Reader that deserves to be read.” — Rudof Mrázek, University of Michigan


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tineke Hellwig is Associate Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of In the Shadow of Change: Images of Women in Indonesian Literature and a co-editor of Asian Women: Interconnections. Eric Tagliacozzo is Associate Professor of History at Cornell University. He is the author of Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States along a Southeast Asian Frontier, 1865–1915 and editor of Southeast Asia and the Middle East: Islam, Movement, and the Longue Duree.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

I. Early Histories

II. Early Modern Histories

III. Cultures in Collision

IV. Through Travelers' Eyes

V. High Colonial Indies

VI. The Last Decades of the Indies

VII. From Nationalism to Independence

VIII. The Old Order, the New Order—Political Climate

IX. Social Issues and Cultural Debates

X. Intro the Twenty-First Century

Suggestions for Further Reading 451

Acknowledgment of Copyrights 457

Index 465
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4424-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4403-2
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