Date: 11-23-05 18:53
Quoted from http://www.furl.net:
GOLDDIGGERS, FARMERS, AND TRADERS IN THE 'CHINESE DISTRICTS' OF WEST KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA
Pacific Affairs, Spring 2004 by Coppel, Charles A
GOLDDIGGERS, FARMERS, AND TRADERS IN THE 'CHINESE DISTRICTS' OF WEST KALIMANTAN, INDONESIA. By Mary Somers Heidhues. Ithaca (New York): Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University. 2003. 316pp. (Maps, B&W photographs, graphs, tables.) US$18.00, paper. ISBN 0-87727-733-8.
Most studies of the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia have either been at the level of national politics or are Javacentric. Mary Somers Heidhues' effort is an honourable exception. Following in the footsteps of her earlier work on Bangka, Bangka Tin and Mentok Pepper: Chinese Settlement on an Indonesian Island (Malaysia: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1992), this excellent history of the Chinese of West Kalimantan is a welcome addition to the literature. This is an important community. Its population of more than 3500 ,0 000 is outnumbered only by the Chinese ofjakarta, and the only province with a higher percentage of Chinese is the newly created province of Bangka-Belitung. These figures are taken from estimates based on the 2000 census (unavailable when Heidhues' book went to press) supplied in Leo Suryadinata, Evi Nurvidya Arifm, and Aris Ananta's Indonesia's Population: Ethnicity and Religion in a Changing Political Landscape (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003). The community is also a distinctive one, mostly comprising small traders, shop owners, farmers and fishermen, many of them poor. It is a far cry from the stereotype of the successful overseas Chinese capitalist. The Chinese community in West Kalimantan has roots that go back to the eighteenth century but, unlike the long-settled Chinese of Java, its members have retained a Chinese language (Hakka or Teochiu) as their mother tongue. The Chinese of West Kalimantan also have a distinctive history that spans more than two and a half centuries. This is the first attempt to tell it.
The book has three big themes. The first is the history of Chinese settlement, most of which took place independently of colonial rule and Western economic enterprise, and the various attempts to suppress and control the Chinese immigrants by the indigenous and colonial states, among them the Malay rulers of Sambas and Mempawah, the Dutch colonial government, the Japanese occupying forces during World War II, and the postcolonial Indonesian state. Although much has previously been written about the selfgoverning kongsis of the gold mining communities in the 'Chinese Districts' north of what is now the provincial capital Pontianak in the nineteenth century, Heidhues' study is outstanding in putting this information into a wider social and historical setting. The second theme is die history of Chinese community organizations and how these helped the immigrant to confront threats from outside. The author not only describes the kongsis (which turn out to be more diverse than is commonly assumed) but also the various voluntary associations (political, social, economic and cultural) which proliferated after the abolition of the last of the kongsis in 1884. These associations were dissolved or suppressed during the Suharto New Order, but have begun to revive since 1998. The third theme is the history of the economic activity of Chinese farmers and traders, including their introduction of new crops and their export trade (whether legitimate or smuggling) oriented to Singapore, Sarawak and China rather than to Java, the centre of political authority during the colonial era and since Indonesian independence. Throughout the book Heidhues is alert to the nature of relations between the Chinese (especially the Hakkas) and other communities (Malays, Dayaks, Javanese and Madurese). In an epilogue, she refers briefly to the anti-Madurese violence of 1997, setting it against the history of the Dayak uprising during the Japanese occupation and the 'Dayak Raids' against the Chinese in 1967, which are discussed in more detail in the body of the book. This is a readable and scholarly volume, grounded in long and careful research in the Dutch archives, as well as published materials in Dutch and Indonesian, and informed by repeated visits to West Kalimantan over a period of almost four decades.