Beyond empire and nation The decolonization of African and Asian societies

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This monograph is a publication of the research programme
Indonesia across Orders
Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde
Beyond empire and nation 7
Freek Colombijn 213
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
The security of land tenure in Indonesian cities from 1930-1960
Bill Freund
The African city
Cathérine Coquéry-Vidrovitch
Racial and social zoning in African cities from colonization to
Beyond empire and nation
and continued far beyond formal independence. By stressing the long-lasting
concerns in late-colonial and newly-independent countries, they try to restore
a concept of history as a development by fits and starts, and offer an approach
to overcome the ‘epistemological rupture’ that the departure of the colonial
powers brought about (Le Sueur 2003:2). We have attempted to cover neither
most countries nor all aspects of the decolonization and reorientation of these
fuller citizenship. It is this mobilization that characterized the transition from
colonialism to postcolonial rule – and continued to be an issue in African
politics since. But as Cooper warns us, decolonization should not be reduced
Beyond empire and nation
residential ‘zoning’, the system by which European and indigenous urban
quarters were distinguished and separated. Cathérine Coquéry-Vidrovitch
investigates the transformations of social segregation in the period of decolo-
nization, which brings her to a similar outcome as Bill Freund’s narrative of
planning and Jim Masselos’ use of urban space: it was not the removal of
European colonial rule that influenced the distribution of the social classes
Writing history is a political activity. Generally speaking, history follows
Beyond empire and nation
National histories strongly endorse the narrative of decolonization as a clear
in order to mentally unravel double loyalties and to overcome the intellectual
Beyond empire and nation
the unifying tool to realize the new ideals: Dutch and regional vernaculars
were no longer tolerated in the schools or in the press.
Thus, untying and being untied, in a continuous reorientation to the chang-
Beyond empire and nation
which was above all a product of the introduction of the colonizers’ language
as the instrument not just of administration and trade, but of learning and
education (D’haen 1998:10). As such, it became the chief means of expression
for the educated elites. It was in a sense a borrowed language, the language
of the foreign oppressor, but at the same time it was internalized (D’haen 2002
Beyond empire and nation
La carence la plus grave subie par le colonisé est d’être placé
Beyond empire and nation
larly distrustful of their intellectual elites. Authorities often responded to the
criticism, satire, or political preferences by trying to mute their voices, ban
President Soekarno’s inclination towards communism and again by Suharto
(Lubis 1980). Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who had a leftist orientation, was
imprisoned three times: once by the Dutch for assisting the revolutionary
Beyond empire and nation
Beyond empire and nation
re presentation of independence as national destiny both emphasize the event
as a rupture, and both have dominated the debate on decolonization. But
there are some good reasons to look beyond Western temporalities, which, in
an inverse way, became those of the nationalists, and to move away from the
strict breaks and established chronologies of the state.
One reason to look beyond accepted temporalities concerns the old ques-
guard, colonial power structures being appropriated and continued by the
tions. In the words of Southeast Asian historian Wang Gungwu (2004:268):
Beyond empire and nation
Beyond empire and nation
Taking the issue to an extreme, Frey, Preussen, and Tan have emphasized
the necessity to see decolonization as an extended process, starting already
heralded – of this process under pressure of intensifying governance, expand-
ing institutionalization, widening horizons, and increasing mobilization.
The moment of political emancipation was, in other words, one point in
Beyond empire and nation
the dynamics of social transition. This change was for a great part induced
by Western agents – and colonial governments taking a predominant role –
but the indigenous strata were as instrumental in picking up the seeds of
Beyond empire and nation
One problem we encounter concerns the use of the term decolonization.
Beyond empire and nation
Colombijn, Freek
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the decolonization of Indonesia, 1930-1960
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D’haen, Theo (ed.)
(Un)Writing empire
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Amsterdam: Bakker. Two vols.
Beyond empire and nation
Heitzman, James
The city in South Asia
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Transformations, Asia’s Great Cities.]
Heraty, Toety
1996 ‘Dekolonisatie, amnesia en anamnese’,
Indische Letteren
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In search of justice; Workers and unions in colonial Java, 1908-1926
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Australia, Southeast Asia Publications Series 12.]
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and the Philippines, 1940-1957
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2003 ‘An introduction; Reading decolonization’, in: James D. Le Sueur (ed.),
The decolonization reader
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Lindblad, J. Thomas
Bridges to new business; The economic decolonization of Indonesia
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Portrait du d
colonisé arabo-musulman et de quelques autres
. [Paris]:
Mohamad, Goenawan
2002 ‘Forgetting; Poetry and the nation, a motif in Indonesian literary
modernism after 1945’, in:
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a space; Postcolonial readings of modern Indonesian literature
, pp. 183-212.
Leiden: KITLV Press. [Verhandelingen 202.]
Mrázek, Rudolf
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Postkoloniaal Nederland; Vijfenzestig jaar vergeten, herdenken, verdringen
Amsterdam: Bert Bakker. [Postkoloniale Geschiedenis in Nederland
Ousmane Sembène
Les bouts de bois de Dieu; Banty mam yall
. [Paris]: Livre Contemporain.
Beyond empire and nation
Pinkus, Karen
2003 ‘Empty spaces: Decolonization in Italy’, in: Patrizia Palumbo (ed.),
place in the sun; Africa in Italian colonial culture from post-uni
cation to the
, pp. 299-320. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Tjerita dari Djakarta; Sekumpulan karikatur keadaan dan manusianja
Djakarta: Gra
ca. Translated as
Tales from Djakarta; Caricatures of
circumstances and their human beings
. Jakarta/Singapore: Equinox 2000.
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2002 ‘Koloniale Vergangenheit und postkoloniale Moral in den Niederlanden’,
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Verbrechen erinnern; Die
Auseinandersetzung mit Holocaust und Völkermord
, pp. 90-110. München:
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Bogaerts and Remco Raben (eds),
Van Indië tot Indonesië
, pp. 13-29.
Amsterdam: Boom.
Rothermund, Dietmar
The Routledge companion to decolonization
. London/New York: Routledge.
Shipway, Martin
Decolonization and its impact; A comparative approach to the end of the
colonial empires
. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Stora, Benjamin
La gangrène et l’oubli; La mémoire de la guerre d’Algérie
. Paris: La
Thomas, Martin, Bob Moore and Larry Butler
The crises of empire; Decolonization and Europe’s imperial states, 1918-1975
London: Hodder Education.
Wang Gungwu
2004 ‘Afterword; The limits of decolonization’, in: Marc Frey, Ronald W.
Pruessen and Tan Tai Yong (eds),
The transformation of Southeast Asia;
International perspectives on decolonization
, pp. 268-73. New York: Sharpe.
[An East Gate Book.]
Ward, Stuart (ed.)
British culture and the end of empire
. Manchester: Manchester University
Press. [Studies in Imperialism.]
Beyond empire and nation
tion in 1921: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.’
Some scholars have continued the march for causes back to the beginning
of modern imperialism when ‘pacification’ in the colonial world really meant
military action against restive populations and resistance writing appeared in
many colonial regions. Oostindie and Klinkers (2004:9), concentrating on the
Haiti declared its independence from France and in an armed revolt gained
Whatever its assigned chronology, decolonization was foremost con-
sidered a global-scale political change, most intense and successful in the
three decades following World War II. As Edward Said (1994:xii) wrote in the
preface to his
Culture and imperialism
, the dominance of the West ‘culminated
in the great movement of decolonization all across the Third World’.
Beyond empire and nation
was delayed until 1946 because of World War II. The British had already quit
India in 1947. Then the French, after the disastrous military defeat at Dien
Resistance to colonial rule grew successfully around the world when the
two remaining, major colonial states had lost their status as ‘Great Powers’.
defeat and surrender of its Far East bastion, Singapore, to the Japanese.
France was defeated and with much of its colonial empire overrun. Not only
was their postwar hold on empire tenuous as a result of the war but also the
As the colonies broke away, scholars amassed considerable literature on the
subject. In the 1970s, more than two dozen studies in English carried the word
‘decolonization’ in their title. Grandest of the texts was Rudolf von Albertini’s
Decolonization; The administration and future of the colonies, 1919-1960
This hefty volume, analysing the recent history of the colonial world by
concentrating on each of the former national empires, was one of the first
nial empires had been largely disassembled. It was preceded, however, by
the work of Henri Grimal, a French author, whose
more descriptive than analytical, was published in 1965. As decolonization
evolved even more rapidly in the 1960s, it became a hot topic. After the first
of decolonization in a national or regional context, with the phenomenon
treated most frequently as it occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the action
was generally the quickest and centred on states having little or no experience
Beyond empire and nation
well-known critics like Samir Amin (1977) and Andre Gunder Frank (1979)
are among the best known. In 1980 a series of essays on the subject and colo-
editor of the book, Aguibou Y. Yansané, a professor at San Francisco State
University, argues in the conclusion that the benefits of political decoloniza-
tion were few among the indigenous population at large. It was the collabora-
tive middle class ‘that allowed transnational corporations to gain control of
local economies and to make them part of ongoing globalization’ (Yansané
1980:287-9). Fanon had already complained in
Beyond empire and nation
alienating, imposed one of the colonial power. Writing in G
(1986:28) considered himself to be ‘part and parcel of the anti-
imperialist struggle’. With colleagues at the University of Nairobi, he called
(1902). Looking at a map of Africa hanging on a wall in a European
office, he considers the geographic change. Africa had been for him, when
to dream gloriously over’. Since then, however, ‘it had become a place of
darkness’, filled in with European names and political boundaries (Conrad
1983:33). Here was what might now be called ‘substitutive geography’, a
condition that David Punter (2000:38) contends figures prominently in post-
colonial literature.
Decolonization from and in the West
Decolonization roamed far from its political basis, as Ng
recent years it figured into the intellectual effort to reconfigure the world, to
‘provincialize’ Europe (Chakrabarty 2000), or to ‘decentre’ it, to use another
new term. Essentially, the former acclaimed and explained Eurocentric vision
Beyond empire and nation
its ingenuity and quality of construction, anything that his Japanese captors
could have contrived. Released in 1957, the film displays in Guinness’s char-
acter Colonel Nicholson the worst effects of the colonial situation, an imposed
reality at odds with the environment and the situation.
The bridge is finally destroyed, and the colonel is killed while trying
desire to be assimilated into French culture. In Great Britain, Enoch Powell, a
Conservative member of Parliament, called for the expulsion of the coloured
The second advantageous development was cultural change and enrich-
Beyond empire and nation
much of contemporary academic analysis attempts to reveal, is a major ques-
tion. ‘The past is prologue’ read the words carved in stone above the entrance
to the American National Archives in Washington. Those words stand as the
One event of iconic significance occurred during the preparations for the
Beyond empire and nation
B. Cohen (ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Translated by
Camille Garnier.]
Duara, Prasenjit (ed.)
Decolonisation; Perspectives from now and then
. London: Routledge.
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Les damnés de la terre
. N.p.:
Maspéro, 1961]
Frank, Andre Gunder
Dependent accumulation and underdevelopment
. New York: Monthly
Review Press.
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1968 ‘Decolonization’, in: Joseph Dunner (ed.),
Handbook of world history;
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, pp. 268-72. London: Owen. [First published 1967.]
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. New Haven, CT:
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Imperialism; The highest stage of capitalism
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The decolonization reader
. New York/London: Routledge.
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. London:
Nkrumah, Kwame
Neo-colonialism; The last stage of imperialism
. New York: International
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Oostindie, Gert and Inge Klinkers
Decolonising the Caribbean; Dutch policies in a comparative perspective
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pratt, Mary Louise
Imperial eyes; Travel writing and transculturation
. London: Routledge.
Punter, David
Postcolonial imaginings; Fictions of a new world order
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and Little
Ridley, Hugh
Images of imperial rule
. London: St. Martin’s.
Rodney, Walter
How Europe underdeveloped Africa
. With a postscript by A. M. Babu.
Washington, DC: Howard University Press.
Ross, Kristin
Fast cars, clean bodies; Decolonizaton and the reordering of French culture
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Said, Edward W.
Culture and imperialism
. New York: Vintage.
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1966 ‘Preface’, in: Frantz Fanon,
The wretched of the earth
. Translated by
Constance Farrington. New York: Evergreen. [Originally published as
Les damnés de la terre
. [Paris]: Maspéro, 1961.]
Seton, Marie
Satyajit Ray: Portrait of a director
. Bloomington: Indiana University
Sorel, Georges
exions sur la violence
. Paris: Pages Libres.
Suret-Canale, Jean
1982 ‘From colonization to independence in French tropical Africa; The
economic background’, in: Prosser Gifford and Wm. Roger Louis (eds),
The transfer of power in Africa; Decolonization 1940-1960
, pp. 445-81. New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Yansané, Aguibou Y.
Beyond empire and nation
For both economic and political reasons, colonized people could no
longer be regarded as passive subjects. If they were to remain in the imperial
polity, the basis of their belonging would have to be taken seriously: as active
contributors to economic development, as people with legitimate interests in
raising their standard of living and levels of education, and as participants
African leaders looked to in 1945. Their scope was broader than that, in some
cases – especially Anglophone Africa – with a strong pan-Africanist orienta-
tion, looking toward the liberation of people of colour throughout the world,
entail. Francophone Africans in late 1945 were preparing for a major effort
to bring pressure on French legislators to rewrite the constitution of the new
Fourth Republic in a way that provided meaningful citizenship in a Greater
France to the people of the colonies. Aimé Césaire was claiming that West
Indian colonies should become integral departments of the French Republic.
Algerians were divided, some already pushing for independence, while others
focused on the humiliating French law that insisted Muslims give up their
civil status under Islamic law in order to become French citizens. Meanwhile,
in both Francophone and Anglophone Africa, people were involved in all
sorts of political activities with a more immediate focus – politics of chieftain-
If colonial subjects at the end of the war were not focusing on the nation-
state as the object of mobilization, British and French officials were not think-
ing about giving up empire, certainly not within a time span of less than a
generation. Empire was in some ways more essential than ever. Damaged
economically by World War II, both powers saw in their colonies the only real
hope of earning hard currency via the sale of tropical products for dollars.
Both powers recognized that the legitimacy of empire was now a more salient
and delicate question than it had been before.
But the rules of the game in Africa itself were already coming undone. Just
before the war Britain had confronted labour unrest that erupted simultane-
ously in Africa and the West Indies in the form of waves of strikes and urban
riots. The colonial rulers of Africa could not do what they had done before,
that is, treat them as ‘tribal’ uprisings and deal with them by concentrating
forces at the local level, hoping to push Africans back into the kind of political
They were empire-wide issues and had to be confronted as such.
Economic and social policy also had to be reframed. The colonial admin-
istrations of both Britain and France had in the 1920s and 1930s considered
Beyond empire and nation
The shifting political situations and positions of the postwar decade posed
problems of analysis for scholars at the time and thereafter. During the period
of decolonization in the 1950s and early 1960s, most scholars – and African
political leaders themselves – were eager to assimilate them to European pat-
terns. They thought or at least hoped that educated African elites would turn
European ideals into African realities: elections and legitimate governments
eager to participate in the world political order and the world economy. A
new wave of scholarship dismissed such views as elitist and found in Africa
diverse popular movements within different idioms: some to heal the land
ants, and some to follow a messianic route to the making of a new Africa.
Both schools can point to important examples. What I emphasize here is the
dynamic in which different types of political mobilization intersected with
colonial strategies that were themselves in flux. The threat of some kinds of
politics pushed colonial regimes further down other paths than they would
have liked to go, until those regimes lost control of the political process.
It was on political territory that France and Britain thought they could
control their effort at reshaping colonialism for a postwar world unravelled.
Colonial regimes did not lose their will or capacity to repress rebellions in
Sub-Saharan Africa: the British in Mau Mau or the French in Madagascar
and Cameroon are cases in point, and the seemingly paradigmatic case of
Algeria – as recent scholarship has demonstrated – was more of a political
than a military defeat for the French government (Joseph 1977; Berman and
Lonsdale 1992; Connelly 2002). But they did operate in the shadow of revolu-
The initial reaction in Africa of both British and French governments was
to deepen commitments rather than to end them: to forge a development-
oriented colonialism that would allow for colonies to contribute more effec-
tively to the recovery of imperial economies, while raising the standard of
living of the colonized, sustaining a slow and carefully controlled evolution
Beyond empire and nation
were unequal and highly contested. Then came the ‘Overseas Territories’, as
colonies were renamed after the war, and finally the associated states (for-
merly protectorates, like Morocco and parts of Indochina). France, in 1946,
was not a nation-state, but an empire-state.
Beyond empire and nation
of belonging – a reminder that ‘blacks had defended the Mother Country,
now they would defend their soil, where they do not want to be considered
paid African workers similar minimum wages and salary scales to those
paid to workers from European France and for civil servants of all ranks the
same benefits that Europeans enjoyed.
around the development idea by which French officials were justifying their
role: ‘Your goal is to elevate us to your level; without the means, we will
Beyond empire and nation
French officials were now willing to make considerable concessions to
1996a:Chapter 11.
Beyond empire and nation
which Senghor and others had espoused, but it represented a different vision
of decolonization, one focused on a territorially narrow version of sover-
eignty. Senghor’s leading political ally in Senegal, Mamadou Dia, expressed
his ‘profound and sad conviction of committing one of those major historical
errors that can inflect the destiny of a people [...]. In spite of us, West Africa
He and Senghor tried to revive fed-
eralist politics across Francophone West Africa, but they soon learned that
the interests that the first generation of African rulers had in the territorial
units turned over to them were so strong and the fear of another politician
with another base poaching on this territory were so great that the possibility
of alternative modes of political organization were lost. French West Africa
and French Equatorial Africa, the two federations through which France
Development and Welfare Act (Cooper 1996a).
But the problem would not fit entirely into the development framework,
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capital city of Accra, focused on urban consumer’s anger at rising prices and
the apparent stranglehold of European commercial firms on imported goods.
have a majority of elected members and that they be given real power. The
pioneering movement was that of the Gold Coast, where leading politicians,
including Kwame Nkrumah, used the occasion of the 1948 riots to claim that
only an African government could address the problems of people of the ter-
ritory and only it could hope to contain the potential for disorder.
The roots
of politics in the Gold Coast were varied, from a relatively well-organized
labour movement, to moderately prosperous cocoa farmers, to urban youth
available for mobilization. Nkrumah was able to straddle a fine line of mobi-
Beyond empire and nation
and connections to a British-dominated commercial system.
Both sides of the pattern influenced other colonies: fear of radicals made
once-radical alternatives look more moderate. In 1957, Prime Minister
The conclusions of the study were mixed:
Although damage could certainly be done by the premature grant
sh interests after
be far greater than any dangers resulting from an act of independence
negotiated in an atmosphere of goodwill such as has been the case with
when we can still exercise control in any territory, it is most important
to take every step open to us to ensure, as far as we can, that British
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had not much to show for itself in the first half-century of African coloniza-
in record harvests, but they were not what officials meant by development.
When British officials were forced to take stock of their progress in the late
Beyond empire and nation
themselves put forward. It was the dynamic element that proved the most
vulnerable part of empire, and it is no surprise that the breakdown of empire
occurred first in the ‘development’-oriented regimes of France and Britain
and not in the empire of Portugal. The attempt at ‘modernizing’ colonialism
did not systematically modernize the social order, but reframed struggles in
For colonial officials, the development drive made it possible to imagine
Africans as ‘modern’ people, acting in institutions like legislatures and labour
legacy of authoritarianism from colonial rule, but also to its opposite; to direct
Beyond empire and nation
Decolonization marked the end of a form of political organization – the
empire – which had been of great importance for millennia – and against
which the apparent domination of the nation-state appears as a short episode.
No one claims to be an empire any more – whereas previous empires were
frank and proud in claiming that status – and while issues of domination
and inequality are far from over, they go by other names and require other
Empires were incorporative as well as differentiated; they repro-
duced distinction as they extended themselves. Today’s powerful states are
more concerned to keep people out than take people in, even as they exercise
influence and power beyond their borders.
Second, the end of colonial empires raised expectations not only of change in
forms of rule but in forms of livelihood. People expected that self-government
would matter in their lives. Such aspirations were captured in Frantz Fanon’s
The last are not first. And for some, the result is disillusionment. Many
Analysis of the dynamics of decolonization, as argued above, should take
into account the nature of contestation before, during, and after the process
references and critique, see Cooper 2005.
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The alternative is to think of decolonization as unbounded, as a step in a
of international financial institutions that placed the repayment of debt over
the improvement of human capacities. The generalized economic crisis com-
for leaders who were trying to make citizenship socially meaningful to have
much to show for their efforts and instead encouraging leaders to emphasize
clientelism and repression in their strategies to maintain power, strategies for
which resources might actually be found for a time. The end result in most
African states has been the collapse of the dreams of the 1950s and 1960s,
leaving in place a citizenship that is thin – providing little accountability,
few services, a meagre security, using the trappings of sovereignty to gain a
Beyond empire and nation
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Beyond empire and nation
addition the impersonal institutions to safeguard capital and property that
were developing in Europe were ‘totally absent in Southeast Asia’ (Reid
Beyond empire and nation
of several trading minorities active in the larger port cities, and they mixed
with both indigenous and other trading groups without appearing to domi-
nate. But by the eighteenth century their numbers had grown, mainly because
economic and demographic pressures in China itself were pushing more
Chinese into trading and commercial ventures in Southeast Asia, as well as
The European-controlled port cities held many attractions for Chinese
traders in the eighteenth century. They were important sources of valuable
tion of indigenous populations to urban areas, and neither was the govern-
ing elite in Siam, where it has been claimed that the ‘court helped to develop
urban Siam as a Chinese preserve’ (Phongpaichit and Baker 1995:174). But
it would be false to claim that urban populations were always overwhelm-
ingly European and Chinese or Indian. In Javanese cities, indigenous
Indonesians were in the majority by 1890, and this continued to be the case
until the end of colonial rule (Boomgaard and Gooszen 1991:220-1). But
in Bangkok it has been estimated that by the 1850s Chinese outnumbered
indigenous Thai by two to one, and Chinese immigration accelerated from
the 1860s onwards as the demand for urban labour increased. The govern-
ment was also an important source of employment for Chinese workers,
especially on railway construction, while the port of Bangkok became ‘vir-
tually a Chinese preserve’ (Phongpaichit and Baker 1995:174-5). In Rangoon
Beyond empire and nation
their commercial and industrial enterprises beyond the ‘limits imposed largely
by tradition’ (Williams 1952:55). Certainly there were exceptions, the most
famous of whom was the ‘sugar king’ Oei Tiong Ham, who built up a large con-
Public Service0.
were Chinese-owned. In the 1920s, a government survey conducted in the
Beyond empire and nation
in the course of his long career and certainly cannot be considered typical
Gelderen (1961:144), that ‘the inhabitant of the tropics is further removed
from the classical homo economicus than the Westerner’, but at the same time
the reasons for the apparent lack of ‘rational economic behaviour’ on the part
dant supplies of land they could earn more in agriculture than as unskilled
workers in the city. As Winstedt, a prominent British official in Malaya in the
need to work for hire, the Malay has got an undeserved reputation for idle-
Beyond empire and nation
Java, and built up quite extensive trading links with other parts of Asia, espe-
cially Japan. Several had close ties to leaders of the independence struggle,
to the development of indigenous entrepreneurs. Norman Owen (1972:52)
pointed out that when the Americans arrived in 1898 there was very little
large-scale Filipino manufacturing. The advent of a free-trade regime with
Indigenous workers as percentage of:
Total labour
Java (1930)98.299.795.5
Beyond empire and nation
labour force
percentage of
labour force
percentage of
labour force
Note: Agriculture includes hunting,  shing, forestry, mining, and salt manufacture.
Government service includes police, army, and navy. J=Java, O.I. = Outer Islands.
Source: Department of Economic Affairs 1936,VIII:Table 18.
ChineseOther AsiansIndigenous
Taiwan (1935)5.21.1
Korea (1939)2.90.2n.a96.9
Indochina (1937)0.21.4n.a98.4
Thailand (1937)n.a11.80.887.4
Burma (1931)
Malaya (1931)0.439.015.844.7
Philippines (1939)0.30.7n.a99.0
Java (1930)
Refers to citizens of mainland China, and other foreigners.
Sources: Korea: Grajdanzev 1944:76; Taiwan: Barclay 1954:16; Indonesia: Boomgaard
and Gooszen 1991; French Indochina: Robequain 1944:Tables 1 and 6; Thailand:
Sompop 1989:32; Burma: Saito and Lee 1999:Table 1-3; Philippines: Bureau of Census
Beyond empire and nation
figures do suggest that on the eve of the Pacific War Philippine citizens
already exercised considerable control over the nonagricultural sectors of the
economy. The consequences of this for postindependence development are
explored below.
Siam, although never a colony, also had to face the problem of consid-
erable foreign control over important sectors of the economy. Eliezer Ayal
(1969:338) pointed out that the leaders of the 1932 coup ‘were imbued with
Western ideas of exclusive nationalism and were therefore more sensitive to
the presence and activities of unassimilated aliens in their country’. Their
main motivation was to end the absolute monarchy and replace it with
a constitutional government that would pursue more aggressively Thai
national interests. The notion of ‘Thaification’ gained support, and, from 1935
onwards, laws were passed to reserve certain urban occupations for Thai, and
to give preference to firms owned by indigenous Thai in allocating govern-
ment contracts (Phongpaichit and Baker 1995:179; Yoshihara 1994:32). The
Business Registration Act of 1936 was designed to facilitate the compilation
of information on business ownership, and in 1938 a government-controlled
Thai Rice Company was formed by the purchase of ten Chinese rice mills.
The Liquid Fuel Act of 1939 attempted to establish government control over
oil imports and distribution. Some of these policies were reversed later, but
economic policy’ in a thesis defended in 1939, quoted several officials includ-
ing J. van Gelderen, J.W. Meijer Ranneft, and J.H. Boeke to support his argu-
a vigorous group of native entrepreneurs had arisen, the authorities would
almost certainly not have gone so far with their welfare policies as they have
done’. Boeke (1961), in a lecture delivered in the late 1920s, in fact called for
a different type of government policy that put less emphasis on improv-
ing the general level of welfare and more on encouraging the emergence of
outstanding individuals with genuine entrepreneurial ability, a policy later
Beyond empire and nation
of (Roff 1967:37). According to W.R. Roff, the greater part of the Malaysian
merchant community in Kuala Lumpur in the 1890s was said to originate
from the Minangkabau region of West Sumatra, while Javanese began to
Beyond empire and nation
non-Malay land for rubber cultivation and, indeed, land already alienated to
Malays that was found to be used for growing rubber was withdrawn.
Colonial officials appeared impervious to the fact that growing rubber
Indigenous workers as percentage of the labour force
ManufacturingCommerce/TradeGovernment and
Indonesia (1930)95.384.393.6
Beyond empire and nation
But there can be little doubt that the large influx of migrant workers into
was directed toward preventing the emergence of such a class. Until
1924 Taiwanese were not allowed to organize or operate corporations
unless there was Japanese participation. Thus the modern sector became
a monopoly of the Japanese capitalists. Even after this restrictive rule
against Taiwanese participation was rescinded, Taiwanese were reluctant
capitalists. Through its power to regulate, and license, and by granting
kept the Taiwanese from acquiring any economic power.
Ho’s argument was that Japanese policy in Taiwan was trapped in an image
of its own creation. Taiwan was to be developed as an agricultural appendage
more preoccupied with war preparations that these views changed. In Korea,
authorities were trying to attract the
(large Japanese industrial con-
glomerates) to invest in Korean industry, some officials did argue for a strat-
egy that also encouraged Koreans to establish small and medium enterprises.
But few policies were implemented, and Korean businesses received little
assistance, compared with that granted to Japanese firms, which remained
(1973:128) argued that the activities of the industrial cooperatives that were
established in Korea after 1910 were ‘insignificant and ineffective’ compared
with small producers’ cooperatives in Japan.
A figure frequently quoted for Korea is that Japanese investors accounted
for around 90 percent of all paid-up capital in industry by the late 1930s
(Kim 1973:110-1; Haggard, Kang and Moon 1997:871; Chung 2006:123). These
were Japanese. The figure of 90 percent has been challenged by Carter Eckert
(1991:54), who claimed that it ignored joint Japanese-Korean companies that
‘may well have garnered the lion’s share of Korean capital’. He also argued
that in any case such statistics did not capture the full extent of the transi-
Beyond empire and nation
indigenous Korean industrial family that rose to wealth and power in the
Japanese era were the Kim brothers who founded the Kyongsong Spinning
Company. They came from a family that had accumulated substantial hold-
ings of rice land in the southern part of the country, and after education in
or the military. This tradition was to continue after the advent of political
The Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945 facilitated the rise of an aggressive
form of indigenism in several parts of Southeast Asia. This was due in part to
the expropriation of almost all enterprises owned by European and American
Beyond empire and nation
An important implication of these measures was that the military leaders
who dominated most governments in Siam (Thailand) from 1932 until the
late 1950s were hostile to private enterprise and supportive of state capital-
ism. These attitudes were encouraged by the sojourns of several leading
military figures in Italy, Germany, and Japan in the interwar years. But the
Thai found, as most of the former colonies were also to find in the decades
after 1945, that there were no shortcuts to greater indigenous control of the
economy. The main problem was the acute shortage of managerial expertise
among indigenous Thai; few had any idea at all of how to run large-scale
productive enterprises, and many of the state corporations were financial
failures. Many managers were former army officers and treated the enter-
prises they were supposed to be running as sources of personal enrichment
and patronage. Ayal (1969:338-9) pointed out that even before 1940, the Thai
to both domestic and foreign private enterprise, abruptly reversed its policy
and after 1963 prevented the establishment of any new private enterprise in
In Indonesia, the struggle to break free of the legacy of the plural economy
took a rather different form. The 1945 constitution enshrined the ‘family
principle’ of economic organization and some nationalist leaders regarded
cooperatives as an ‘excellent expression of Indonesian social ideals’ in spite
of the colonial era, been increasingly based on private ownership of land and
growing evidence that many of the so-called indigenous businesses that got
access to import licences were simply fronts for more experienced Chinese
Dutch companies that were either closed or nationalized in 1957-1958.
It was the frustration of the failed indigenist policies of the 1950s which
President Soekarno exploited after he brought the period of constitutional
democracy to an end in 1958 and ushered in the Guided Economy. From
ing Indonesian socialism, although as Anspach (1969:126) pointed out, for
most of the Indonesian political elite, socialism meant little more than ‘an
emotional predilection, a vestigial sentiment from the revolutionary struggle
Beyond empire and nation
almost certainly witnessed an attenuation of the role of government in the
Indonesian economy. Government expenditures relative to GDP were already
‘hopelessly high-cost industries’ (International Bank for Reconstruction and
Tariff protection was an especially difficult issue because those parts of
British Malaya that had developed as free ports, especially Singapore and
Penang, were fearful that with independence their free-port status would be
removed, and their consumers forced to pay high tariffs on imported goods,
or buy high cost manufactures from other parts of Malaya. These fears were
in part the reason for Singapore’s departure from the Federation of Malaysia
run-up to independence were themselves ambivalent about encouraging
would seize the opportunities provided by tariff protection. Some were
also concerned about the impact of industrial protection on the urban-rural
terms of trade, and about the welfare effects on small rural producers, the
great majority of whom were Malay. As Frank Golay (1969:346) argued, the
encourage, the continuing large Western stake in the economy.
The situation in the Philippines was different again. By the late 1930s,
As percentage of GDP
As percentage of gov.
Korea (South)22
Source: United Nations ECAFE 1961:Tables 22, 24, 25, 32, 33.
Beyond empire and nation
were owned by Filipino citizens (Golay 1969:Table 1). This was a far higher
proportion than in any other colonial territory in East or Southeast Asia.
Certainly many of the large owners of both agricultural estates and nonagri-
cultural enterprises were of mixed Filipino and Chinese or Spanish descent,
in 1945-1946 left large holes in both economies, and policy debates revolved
around what was going to fill them. In Taiwan, the administration that took
over from the departing Japanese was imbued by the ‘statist economic ideas’
Beyond empire and nation
Jones and Sakong (1980:276) pointed out that the situation changed with
the advent of the Park government. Under Park, firms were expected to
make a convincing argument that the privileges conferred on them would
be used productively. Good connections with the bureaucracy were still
important, but as the supply of potential entrepreneurs increased, an element
were also working quite short hours (Hauser 1977:Table 5). While rapid
of the plural economy, finding productive jobs for the output of the education
system proved more difficult than many had realized. These problems were
to continue in many of the former Asian colonies to the present day.
Gross enrolments ratios
Korea (South)
Beyond empire and nation
economy, this apparently causes less popular resentment than in either
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The Chinese business
lite in Indonesia and the transition to independence,
. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press. [South-East Asian
Historical Monographs.]
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Economic survey of Asia and the Far East, 1960
. Bangkok: United Nations
Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.
Economic survey of Asia and the Far East, 1961
. Bangkok: United Nations
Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.
United Nations UNESCO
UNESCO Statistical Yearbook 1963
. Paris: United Nations Education,
c and Cultural Organization.
Vlieland, C.A.
British Malaya; A report on the 1931 census and on certain problems of vital
. London: Crown Agents.
Wertheim, W.F.
1964 ‘Betting on the strong’, in: W.F. Wertheim,
East-West parallels; Sociological
approaches to modern Asia
. The Hague: Van Hoeve.
White, Nicholas J.
Business, government and the end of empire; Malaya, 1942-1957
. Kuala
Lumpur: Oxford University Press. [South-East Asian Historical
Williams, Lea
1952 ‘Chinese entrepreneurs in Indonesia’,
Explorations in Entrepreneurial
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rst business empire of Southeast Asia
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When the Pacific War ended in August 1945, the former colonies in Asia
front, nationalist sentiment had grown stronger and dissatisfaction with the
prewar political dispensation spread as people clamoured for independence.
Internationally, the global balance of power had changed with the United
Beyond empire and nation
changing and diversifying their economic structures and channelling invest-
fund. From the early 1900s until the mid-1930s the US government endeav-
oured through diplomacy to propagate the gold standard in other parts of
the world. There was an element of self-interest in these efforts, as American
silver currencies, preferred a reliable international system of gold-based cur-
rencies. This would create a dollar bloc in which their dollar-based invest-
For many years the gold standard acted as a regulator of international
exchange with a stabilizing effect on international trade and investment.
However, the system had serious drawbacks, particularly for agricultural
countries. Money circulation under the gold standard was closely tied to
the balance of payments, and there was little space for the creation of credit
to stimulate economic development. Agrarian economies are generally sus-
seasonal nature of agricultural production is especially pronounced. Exports
bring in foreign exchange during and after the harvest season. This means that
both the country as a whole and the cash-crop producing regions in particular
Beyond empire and nation
There was a growing conviction that automatic mechanisms in mon-
Policymakers would manage the domestic currency volume with regard to
the needs of the economy and the stability of prices. Triffin and his colleagues
payment of these drafts in pesos in Manila increased the money in circulation.
Beyond empire and nation
The American government tactfully suggested to President Quezon of the
Philippines that the bills be withdrawn from the Assembly. This was done by
he held office until his death in 1948. His top priority was the rebuilding
of the country’s productive capabilities that had been destroyed during
about the capabilities of the Filipinos, but the real cause was probably the
American banking sector’s fear that the operations of American business
in the Philippines would be curtailed under a Philippine central bank.
Cuaderno (1960:10) argued ‘that it would not look well for the United States,
now that the Philippines was a free country, to give the impression that
she still wanted to control our economy’. When President Roxas, during a
Beyond empire and nation
tion (Cuaderno 1960:10). The final report of the Joint Commission stated that
supervision of the banking system and preservation of the international
value of the peso, but also for promoting economic production in the country.
This was a wide mandate that gave the Central Bank governor far-reaching
To complement the Central Bank Act, the Philippine Congress adopted the
General Banking Act (R.A. No. 337) on 24 July 1948, which gave the central
Beyond empire and nation
A system of controls
In the Philippines, 1949 was an election year, and the incumbent President
Elpidio Quirino, who as vice president had assumed the presidency after
the death of Manuel Roxas in 1948, spent large sums of money on his reelec-
tion campaign. Inflation rose sharply and the ensuing flight to dollars raised
fears that the peso would collapse. In consultation with the president, central
bank governor Cuaderno sent an urgent request to the US president asking
him to approve the imposition of exchange controls. An IMF mission arrived
in the Philippines to study the situation. The urgency of the situation was
compounded by the fact that the communist Huk rebellion was expand-
ing rapidly, bringing the possibility of a communist victory within sight. In
December 1949, the White House gave consent to impose exchange controls.
The central bank governor immediately ordered domestic and foreign banks
to cease the sale of foreign currency (Cuaderno 1960:23-4). In May 1950 this
was followed by tighter import controls, which lasted until 1953. In subse-
quent years the Philippine Central Bank issued a large number of circulars,
with very precise instructions concerning the various exchange rates of the
After 1953, exchange controls were deliberately used as an instrument of
tion and a Philippinization of the economy. The government discouraged the
import of finished products and consumer goods, and promoted the import
of raw materials and machinery.
The exchange and import controls of the 1950s strengthened the state’s
Beyond empire and nation
lost its momentum and entrepreneurs were clamouring for a loosening of
was losing dollars through widespread evasion of controls and the smug-
In 1960 the central bank started gradually lifting exchange and import
controls. The first step was to limit the type of goods that could be imported
under the two-to-one exchange rate and to restrict foreign exchange. In 1962
the peso exchange rate was officially changed to 3.90 to $1. In 1970 a free-
floating exchange rate was adopted, leading to a further depreciation of the
peso in subsequent years (by 1987 it was 20 to $1). At the end of 1960, Miguel
Cuaderno, who did not agree with this decontrol program, resigned as gov-
Beyond empire and nation
as the standard coin and proclaimed it equal in value to ten silver guilders.
In 1877 this system was introduced in the Dutch East Indies. Because the gold
of sending all excess funds back home. Profits on exports automatically went
to headquarters. For their financing, the companies received funds directly
Beyond empire and nation
The government of the Republic issued large amounts of its own Indonesian
Republic money, but outside Java it was valid only in the territories of issue.
After December 1949 an estimated 3.3 billion guilders of Dutch currency
were in circulation in addition to about 6 billion rupiah in different types of
Republican money. The Indonesian government declared all ‘Red money’,
all prewar Javasche Bank notes and all URI notes to be legal tender. The two
denominations, guilder and rupiah, were considered equal, as the two names
had been used interchangeably in the past. In early 1950 the Indonesian
govern ment embarked on a money purge in an attempt to remove surplus
money from the economy and to stabilize prices.
December 1949 marked what the Dutch call ‘the transfer of sovereignty’ to
Indonesia and what the Indonesians refer to as the ‘recognition of sovereignty’.
Either way, political sovereignty did not immediately bring the Indonesians
real value of remaining Dutch financial claims against the new state (Anspach
Beyond empire and nation
after the Japanese capitulation. Sjafruddin was a member of the Masjumi
party and belonged to the party’s religious socialist wing. Before his appoint-
ment as bank president he had served as minister of finance and prime
minister. Politically, he was moderate. He did not believe, for instance, that
a prerequisite for economic development. Glassburner (1971:81) compares
him with other Indonesian economists at the time: ‘Of this group, Sjafruddin
was the one most clearly inclined to accept the circumstances and willing to
In a paper that circulated in Jakarta and was later published in a business
Beyond empire and nation
consult with experts from the IMF or the US Federal Reserve System.
Unlike the policymakers, Indonesian and Dutch economists working in
the newly-established Faculty of Economics at Universitas Indonesia were
well-informed. One of them was C.F. Scheffer (1911-1979), an independent
banking system. Although the committee never got off the ground, it provided
Scheffer (1951b) with enough research material for his PhD dissertation. In his
dissertation he analysed the dual position of the Javasche Bank and argued in
favour of a supervisory role for the future Indonesian central bank. In 1951,
when he was still employed at the Ministry of Finance, Scheffer became a
lecturer in the University of Indonesia’s economics faculty. When Scheffer
gave his inaugural address as full professor in 1953, he defended strong state
control over the banking sector. Scheffer (1951b) was aware of the recent work
of IMF economists such as Triffin, as one of the theses in his PhD disserta-
would have preferred to see it become the central bank because, as Soemitro
(1986:34) wrote, ‘it was our bank’.
The purposes of the central bank were similar to those of the Javasche
Bank, namely to issue bank notes, manage gold and foreign currencies, and
Beyond empire and nation
In the years 1955-1958, the central bank acquired more powers through a
taining a positive foreign exchange balance. The latter measure was achieved
through a rigorous system of foreign exchange and import controls. The
Philippines central bank governor withstood government pressure to loosen
Note: Money supply is the sum of currency in circulation (notes and coins) and
demand deposits, excluding government and inter-bank deposits (technical term: M
Beyond empire and nation
IMF. These economists had broken with the liberal outlook of their prewar
counterparts and had adopted views more in line with those of politically-
to impose exchange and import controls and to maintain a relatively stable
exchange rate for the Philippine peso throughout the 1950s. The central bank
governor had the power to resist political pressure from the government and
Ali Wardhana
1971 ‘The Indonesian banking system; The central bank’, in: Bruce
Glassburner (ed.),
The economy of Indonesia; Selected readings
, pp. 338-58.
Ithaca, NY/London: Cornell University Press.
Anspach, Ralph
1969 ‘Indonesia’, in: Frank H. Golay, Ralph Anspach, M. Ruth Pfanner and
Eliezer B. Ayal,
Underdevelopment and economic nationalism in Southeast
, pp. 111-201. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Castro, Amado A.
1960 ‘Central banking in the Philippines’, in: S. Gethyn Davies (ed.),
banking in South and East Asia
, pp. 171-82. Hong Kong: Hong Kong
University Press.
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A banking system in transition; The origin, concept and growth of the
Indonesian banking system
. Djakarta: The New Nusantara Publishing
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Central bank of the Philippines (A monograph)
. Manila: The Central Bank.
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. Manila:
Doronilla, Amando
The state, economic transformation, and political change in the Philippines,
Singapore: Oxford University Press.
Eck, D. van
Beyond empire and nation
Irvine, Reed J.
1953 ‘New central banking legislation in Indonesia’,
Far Eastern Survey
Jenkins, Shirley
American economic policy toward the Philippines
. With an introduction by
Claude A. Buss. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Lichauco, Alejandro
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Quezon City: Institute
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2004 ‘Van Javasche bank naar Bank Indonesia; Voorbeelden uit de praktijk
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Palafox, Liria A.
1958 ‘Movements of money supply and consumer prices in the Philippines
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nancial year 1957-58
Djakarta: Bank Indonesia.
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nancial year 1951-1952
. Batavia: The Java Bank.
Saubari, Moh.
1987 ‘Re
ections on economic policy making: 1945-51’,
n, Robert
Monetary and banking reform in Paraguay
. Washington: Board of
Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
1947 ‘National central banking and the international economy’, in: Lloyd
A. Metzler, Robert Trif
n and Gottfried Haberler (eds),
How far did Southeast Asia’s experience of colonialism and decolonization
contribute to severe postcolonial problems, notably: high levels of violence
and endemic crises of authority? There can be no denying that colonialism
Beyond empire and nation
tities, of colonization, and of Japanese occupation, continuing to rely on high
levels of coercion to enforce state authority, as in New Order Indonesia and
in Burma/Myanmar. But the chapter is not unremittingly negative. Looking
at Malaysia and Singapore as a case study will show how two states have
managed to dampen violence and achieve a degree of cohesion despite the
legacies of colonialism, Japanese occupation, and decolonization. It argues
Malaysia and Singapore do implicitly in their policy, though not explicitly in
their propaganda – that most Southeast Asian states originated not so much
. In each case an overarching
supranationalism has been in a constantly shifting relationship with more
In search of Southeast Asian patterns; peasant wars
The first problem to confront anyone attempting to analyse Southeast Asia
as an area is what can so diverse a group of territories have in common?
Singapore, all Southeast Asian countries have consisted mainly of peasants.
It is therefore scarcely surprising that peasant revolts and village wars have
been geographically wide-ranging across time and space: these have consti-
claimed leadership before and during the Pacific War. Each fought the
state attempts to reimpose power using people who had collaborated with the
Beyond empire and nation
worked with the Japanese, who helped them raise a Burmese National Army
(Taylor 2006:195-210).
There was a clear Acehnese identity: nationalism. But it was not a zero
Beyond empire and nation
At first, in 1949, integration into supranationalism and its politics
seemed possible, through the likes of reformist Islamic parties such as the
local Islamic figures from Aceh. But out of disappointment with Masjumi’s
declining influence and with the secular tone of the state Aceh joined the
Darul Islam (House of Islam) revolt in 1953 as a way of pressurizing the
central state to take more notice of Acehnese demands and needs. Though the
The presence of different levels of nationalism, or identities, is not enough in
itself to explain the level of violence used in Southeast Asian crises of author-
ity. This raises the question: did the colonial state in some way entrench the
use of violence for political means, or entrench groups and attitudes likely to
The first place to look is at the discourses of colonial states themselves.
These include narratives of a centralizing state imposing order over chaos,
Beyond empire and nation
This version sees fast economic and glacial social development under
European tutelage disrupted by the Pacific War that produced chaos and
unrealistic expectations. It implies that postindependence violence was the
consequence of war, and of the premature throwing off of the colonial frame-
A related explanation, therefore, does not emphasize the strong state but
to the contrary a thin state. Henk Schulte Nordholt (2002) suggests that the
Beyond empire and nation
The political scientist thus simplifies, providing heuristic models such as
‘repertoires of action’.
Another political-science model invoked to explain
entrenched violence in Southeast Asian politics is that of neopatrimonial-
ism. This models many Southeast Asian polities as working on the basis of
vertical linkages from villager to local elite, and from local elites to central
elites. These vertical linkages, which seek to secure patronage to distribute
strong example of such patrimonial politics persisting from colonial to post-
parties as empty vessels, coalitions of such vertically linked groups.
individuals can freely switch parties or form new ones. The implication is
that such patrimonial systems are inherently flawed. Given that governments
command loyalty not because of the legitimacy of a process – of elections and
government, or because of party programmes – but due to rewards, groups
feel free to turn to nonconstitutional means when excluded from patronage.
Here, it is not so much ‘reservoirs of violence’ as the whole basis of political
organization (notably in pre-1998 Indonesia and the Philippines) that is seen
So we have two political science models that help explain Southeast
Asia’s postindependence condition, suggesting underlying reasons for a
continuity of violence across colonial, decolonizing, and postcolonial periods.
Neopatrimonialism suggests that patronage continued to be the critical factor
across periods – for instance, Philippine independence leaving the same elites
and patronage linkages in place. Hence, politics have not replaced violence,
but just remained another tool for obtaining patronage. Robinson’s approach,
meanwhile, marries both the political scientists’ preference for models and
historical patterns, in repertoires of violence, but also its contingency, based
on political manoeuvrings. Both approaches suggest ingrained potential
for political violence across our period of time. But there is a roadblock to
concluding from this that such political-science models can easily explain
the persistence of crises and violence across periods. That impediment is the
Beyond empire and nation
it, rather than continuities from the colonial era, played the bigger part in
preshaping the terrain for postcolonial politics and violence.
Was the Japanese occupation of 1942 to 1945 just another cumulative step in
building tensions, conflicts and repertoires and reservoirs of violence? Did it
do little more than extrapolate colonial-era entrenchment of social divisions
We must turn to literature to grasp the impact of this period. When
telling of the events in Surabaya in October to November 1945, Idroes’s story
(‘Surabaja’) relates that, in response to the tumult of war, to recently released
Beyond empire and nation
In both Indonesia and Burma these events, with mobilization reaching
down into the village, showed it was (in the words of a Malay saying) time for
‘the frog to come out of the coconut shell’. Villagers and town dwellers were
Republic’s ideology from 1945 –
one god rather than Islam as one of the five pillars of national ideology. These
losers, especially people in areas peripheral to the core state, such as Aceh,
Maluku, Mindanao, Southern Thailand, and the Burmese hills, frequently
turned to revolt. Meanwhile, those Muslims who wanted a more Islamic state
in Indonesia began a Darul Islam (House of Islam) revolt in West Java in 1948,
with Aceh joining in 1953. These revolts were suppressed by military action,
but their causes were not removed. In areas such as the Burmese hills, revolts
Christie also highlights the forces arrayed against the break-up of the
postindependence states. Quite apart from the natural propensity of states to
support the territorial integrity of other states, the Cold War, especially after
the Korean War started in 1950, caused Western and Southeast Asian govern-
Beyond empire and nation
If we take three scholars’ explanations for recent conflicts, we will see that
three very different notions of identity underlie them, with very different
implications for linkage across our colonial, decolonizing and postindepen-
First, David Brown’s
But a third type of analysis warns us against overhasty embrace of disin-
tegrationist conclusions. This is Mahmood Mamdani’s reworking (1996) of an
Beyond empire and nation
been accompanied by rapid development and relatively low levels of state
violence. These ‘success’ stories are for two states with large but dispersed
minorities, namely Malaysia and Singapore. In both cases, their decoloniza-
tion and postindependence periods were characterized by severe crises of
made this workable was that UMNO’s foundation in 1946 was a response to
an acute threat as the British tried to remove the Malays’ special place and
indigenous. UMNO’s success in reversing this, and the resulting spirit of
Malay unity, ensured Malay splits were afterwards fought out mainly within
UMNO. This made UMNO a reliable partner for minority elites needing
patrimonial resources since they were not threatened with the possibility of
exclusion from power should UMNO lose control. By comparison, no Thai or
Indonesian political party could offer such stable access to central resources
and policy.
Had Chin Peng chosen the Chinese association or business (MCA) route,
he could have preserved his particularistic identity. Chinese had such oppor-
The model offered benefits to everyone, but by the late 1960s it was coming
under severe strain. The failure of rural development initiatives by the 1960s
caused the Malays to feel aggrieved. There were no Malay secondary schools
the early 1960s non-Malays remained preponderant. These tensions boiled
multiracial Gerakan whose supporters paraded in Kuala Lumpur. Feeling
the promise of independence – which to them meant restoration of Malay
dominance and improving conditions – in danger, some Malays exploded in
anger and riot. After these 1969 racial riots, a New Economic Policy (NEP)
Beyond empire and nation
ested in merely continuing the family bicycle and motor workshop, or tradi-
tional identity. By the mid 1930s two alternative narratives were opening up:
formed. What made increasing numbers of Chinese turn towards these two
long Pacific War from 1937. Chin Peng considered joining the GMD to help
the fight against Japan in China, but was already reading communist mate-
On protracted war
were the most effective anti-Japanese organizers, with strikes and boycotts
Beyond empire and nation
or son of the soil) and share in privileges
tives as unofficials to an Executive or Legislative Council. It has also moved
towards supporting the idea of an overarching supranational identity – a
Beyond empire and nation
the state’s meritocratic ideology and would provoke a PAP backlash, if not
Beyond empire and nation
to tame their history, although at a price. Admitting that most Southeast
Asian states were not nation-states at birth, but nations-states, may be a
starting point. This does not mean that there was no potent, overarching
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[Verhandelingen 194.]
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Cribb, Robert
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Frey, Marc
2003 ‘The Indonesian revolution and the fall of the Dutch empire; Actors,
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Gullick, J.M.
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Kratoska, Paul H., Remco Raben and Henk Schulte Nordholt (eds)
Locating Southeast Asia; Geographies of knowledge and politics of space
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Nation-building; Five Southeast Asian histories
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1994 ‘Dutch expansion in the Indonesian archipelago about 1900 and the
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1950s as being closely tied, that they were ‘bound as one, moved as one’.
same sentiments were expressed in Puncan, the adjacent
hood) where the whole population was said to possess ‘a spirit of cooperation
for the good of the barrio’ (HDP, Puncan, Nueva Ecija Roll 47:5). People in
small rural communities across the Philippines are usually tied to one another
either through descent, marriage, or fictive bonds of kinship, so it is not sur-
Beyond empire and nation
tutes decolonization. The Philippines has formally declared its independence
at least three times: from the Spanish on 12 June 1898, under Japanese tute-
lage on 14 October 1943, and by American fiat on 4 July 1946.
administration is often represented in national historiography as part of a
gradual process of ‘tutelage’ towards decolonization. As the principal argu-
ment of this chapter stresses continuity more than change (though without
overstressing the importance of the former or denying the existence of the
latter), its temporal framework encompasses roughly a thirty-year period
from the inauguration of internal self-rule under the Commonwealth gov-
ernment in 1935 to the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos in 1965, who was to
dominate Filipino politics until his flight in 1986. It should be noted, however,
that while these dates may constitute significant yardsticks in the history of
the nation, they are far less noteworthy in the narrative of the community. To
the latter, the real milestone during this period was the Japanese occupation
(1941-1945) and the disruption to lives and livelihoods caused by constant
low-intensity conflict, widespread migration, and the permanent abandon-
long been recognized in Indonesia where anthropologists such as Clifford
Geertz (1962) and Shirley Ardener (1964) have debated how organizations
like rotating credit associations needed to be understood in terms of modern-
Beyond empire and nation
work was organized through informal customary practice.
structures had much in common with the organizations that assisted people
so characteristic of Mexico. All three also share a tradition in which it is diffi-
not only to console them, but also to offer whatever help they are capable
of giving’ (HDP, Putting Tubig, Nueva Ecija Roll 47:95). In Nueva Ecija, this
was referred to as the
and solidarity by contributing as much money as they could afford, an act
that was ‘considered a must by each and every family of the neighbourhood’
(HDP, Kababao, Nueva Ecija Roll 47:38). Help was not only forthcoming at
times of distress but also on more joyous family occasions such as baptisms
and weddings when ‘people gave their share to the family concerned’ (HDP,
Saguing Talugtug, Nueva Ecija Roll 47).
tions, the basic structure of the system was the same: ‘Most of their work
by the tagnawa system. In the tagnawa the labour is free but the host feeds
the workers’ (HDP Cabugbugan, Tarlac Roll 72:17). More precisely, com-
Beyond empire and nation
the Kapisanan Makabola Makasinag (1924-1925), the Tayug uprising (1931),
and the Sakdalista movement (1934-1935) (Sturtevant 1972; Guerrero 1967;
Kapatiran had many features in common with mutual benefit so
Beyond empire and nation
time it merged with the AMT in 1939 mainly in Nueva Ecija and Bulacan (B.
Village cooperation after independence
Far from being a recent manifestation, then, there is a long history of formal
and more informal associations among the peoples of the archipelago. The
Beyond empire and nation
improvement clubs.
An attempt was also made to mobilize farmers with
At the
level, however, evidence
suggests that village cooperation and the formal and more informal forms
of associations that were prevalent there continued to provide communities
with their only reliable form of social security. Fieldwork studies conducted
Beyond empire and nation
cooperation with local Parent Teacher Associations. Practically all the postwar
rebuilding of damaged schoolhouses, the construction of new ones and the
provision of equipment for both were carried out by PTAs (HDF Cabiao,
tion but continued contributing till all participants had received their share,
different members. There was also the added attraction of chance as to who
would receive the first payment but without any of the corresponding risks
associated with gambling (Lewis 1971:147-9). Similar forms of enforced
savings were observed in the central Philippines where they were known
on the island of Leyte (Pal 1956:408). There is evidence that
and McMillan 1952:168). The approximately 500 members belonging to Ang
improvement of
life through unity and cooperation were supporting
several families who had fallen on hard times in 1951 (HDP San Josef, Nueva
Ecija Roll 47:88). Lewis noted the existence of other forms of organizations
membership was exclusively female, payments were made in the form of
food but were unscheduled and occurred only as individual need arose. An
organizer recorded all such contributions and was charged with informing
and the time and place at which their payments were due. Contributing
members were likely to be guests at these functions. Lewis concluded that
were a form of social investment that used economic goods to
reinforce established social ties (Lewis 1971:149-50).
The nature of social services 1935-1965
The evidence suggests, then, that the formal processes of decolonization
was more of tit-for-tat reciprocity than a form of group solidarity.
Agaton Pal identified different types of cooperative labour exchange in
his anecdotal study of social organizations in Barrio Esperanza on the south-
joint investment of labour and the sharing of resultant income or produce and
was usually closely related to subsistence activities such as farming, fishing
Beyond empire and nation
or forest-harvesting and rarely necessitated an exchange of money. Outright
involved the accumulation of respective workdays
for others by each member of a group that could then be called upon when
required. Not everyone’s workdays, however, were assessed in the same
way, so a carpenter’s labour was held equivalent to two days weeding, and
reciprocal arrangements he encountered in rural parts of central Luzon in
the early 1970s that were known collectively as
(where the root
means to reciprocate, while the suffix indicates a form of payment).
there was
groups of farmers discussed their ideal planting schedules, decided when
each would plant and in what order, and arranged a schedule to avoid any
clashes of interest. Then there was a form of reciprocity known as
in which the farm holder repaid labour on the spot through provid-
contri buted. Events such as these could happen to anyone and so could not
be anticipated. They were not a matter of reciprocity, but those who refused
assistance in such circumstances were noticed and might find it difficult
to obtain help in the future.
In the main, Generoso Rivera and Robert
McMillan (1952:168) concluded that forms of community cooperation were
most successful when the number of people involved were few, the organiza-
The various forms of community assistance were subsequently catego-
or services were rendered to one outside the immediate family and that were
expected to be repaid with interest so as to ensure that one did not remain
fully discharged. Those who wilfully ignored its precepts and did not recip-
rocate in kind on the appropriate occasion were said to be
, liter-
ally without shame, a derogatory term that was considered to place someone
Many of these notions were championed by
Beyond empire and nation
Unfortunately, all these postcolonial attempts at reform became hopelessly
mired in cronyism and nepotism and proved of little lasting benefit to folk
. They can be said, however, to mark the real beginning of the
decolonization process in that government policies attempted to employ non-
Western, community-based models for the first time as a basic framework of
current emphasis on the importance of local knowledge to tackle intractable
social, economic, and environmental problems is a belated recognition that
non-Western peoples have historically developed sophisticated strategies and
complex institutions to reduce the constant insecurity of their lives.
Beyond empire and nation
1927 ‘“Turnuhan” as practised in various provinces’,
Philippine Agricultural
Bankoff, Greg
2004 ‘Local associations and the provision of social services in the rural
Philippines, 1565-1964’,
IIAS Newsletter
2005 ‘Wants, wages and workers; Laboring in the American Philippines,
c Historical Review
2007 ‘The dangers to going it alone; Social capital and the origins of
community resilience in the Philippines’,
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Benda-Beckmann, Franz von and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann
2000 ‘Coping with insecurity’, in: Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet
von Benda-Beckmann and Hans Marks (eds),
Coping with insecurity;
An ‘underall’ perspective on social security in the Third World
, pp. 7-31.
Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar.
Carrol, John
1961 ‘Philippine labour unions’,
Philippine Studies
Census of the Philippine Islands, 1918
. Manila: Bureau of Printing. Four
Clark, Victor
1905 ‘Labor conditions in the Philippines’,
Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor
Clarke, Gerard
The politics of NGOs in South-East Asia; Participation and protest in the
. London and New York: Routledge.
Connolly, M. John
Church lands and peasant unrest in the Philippines; Agrarian con
icts in
20th-century Luzon
. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
Constantino-David, Karina
1998 ‘From the present looking back; A history of Philippine NGOs’, in: G.
Sidney Silliman and Lela Noble (eds),
Organizing for democracy; NGOs,
civil society, and the Philippine state
, pp. 26-48. Quezon City: Ateneo de
Manila University Press.
Drèze, Jean and Amartya Sen
Hunger and public action
. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Geertz, Clifford
1962 ‘The rotating credit association; A “middle rung” in development’,
Economic Development and Cultural Change
Guerrero, Milagros
1967 ‘The Colourum uprising’,
Asian Studies
Hart, Donn
The Philippine Plaza complex; A focal point in culture change
. New Haven,
CT: Southeast Asian Studies, Yale University. [Southeast Asian Studies,
Cultural Report 3.]
Hart, John
1996 ‘Mexican mutualism in historical perspective’, in: Marcel van der
Linden (ed.),
Social security mutualism; The comparative history of mutual
t societies
, pp. 589-607. Bern: Lang.
Hollnsteiner, Mary
The dynamics of power in a Philippine municipality
. Manila: Community
Development Research Council, University of the Philippines.
1968 ‘Reciprocity in the lowland Philippines’, in: Frank Lynch (ed.),
readings on Philippine values
, pp. 22-49. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila
University Press, Quezon City. [Institute of Public Administration
Papers 2.]
Ileto, Reynaldo
Pasyon and revolution; Popular movements in the Philippines, 1840-1910
Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.
eld, Henrik
Co-operative communities at work
. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner.
Ingleson, John
1996 ‘Mutual bene
t societies in Indonesia’, in: Marcel van der Linden
Social security mutualism; The comparative history of mutual bene
Beyond empire and nation
Benda-Beckmann and Hans Marks (eds),
Coping with insecurity; An
‘underall’ perspective on social security in the Third World
, pp. 219-29.
Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar.
Historical Data Papers, National Library of the Philippines, Manila.
Albay, HDP Historical Sketch of the Town of Polangui, La Purisima. Historical Data
Papers, Albay Roll 1 (Of
cially Roll 3).
Albay, HDP Historical Sketch of the Town of Polangui, Santa Cruz. Historical Data
Papers, Albay Roll 1 (Of
cially Roll 3).
Albay, HDP Historical Sketch of the Town of Polangui, Santicon. Historical Data
Papers, Albay Roll 1 (Of
cially Roll 3).
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the City of Cabanatuan. Historical Data Papers,
Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the Town of Cabiao. Historical Data Papers,
Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the District of Carranglan District, Barrio
Canderia. Historical Data Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the District of Carranglan District, Barrio
Puncan. Historical Data Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Peñaranda, Barrio San Josef. Historical Data
Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Gapan, Sitio Balante. Historical Data Papers,
Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Gapan, Sitio Kababao, Barrio San Cristo.
Historical Data Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Gapan, Sitio Putting Tubig. Historical Data
Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Gapan, Sitio Taluate. Historical Data Papers,
Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the Guimba District, Barrio Saguing Talugtug.
Historical Data Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of the Guimba District, Barrio Saverona. Historical
Data Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Muñoz, Barrio Mangandingay. Historical Data
Papers, Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Nueva Ecija, HDP Historical Sketch of Muñoz, Sitio Rangayan. Historical Data Papers,
Nueva Ecija Roll 47.
Pampanga, HDP History and Cultural Life of the Municipality of Minalin, Sitio
Maniango. Historical Data Papers, Pampanga Roll 36 (Of
cially Roll
Pampanga, HDP Historical Data of the Town of San Fernando, Barrio of Baliti.
Historical Data Papers, Pampanga Reel 36 (Of
cially Reel 52).
Pampanga, HDF History and Cultural Life of the Town of San Simon, Barrio of Dela
Paz. Historical Data Papers, Pampanga Roll 36 (Of
cially Reel 52).
Tarlac, HDP Historical Sketch of Gerona, Barrio Bularit. Historical Data Papers, Tarlac
Roll 72.
Tarlac, HDP Historical Sketch of Sta Ignacia, Barrio Cabugbugan. Historical Data
Papers, Tarlac Roll 72.
Beyond empire and nation
Tarlac, HDP Historical Sketch of Sta Ignacia, Barrio Caanamongam. Historical Data
Papers, Tarlac Roll 72.
The recon guring of national
Beyond empire and nation
The free space long desired and struggled for by nationalists, the idea of
the free nation’s territory that had underscored the drive for political freedom,
cal independence was a reality the space of the nation had fallen short of what
they had struggled for.
And what had been the idea of nation behind the struggle? Nehru, who
had spent much of the 1920s and 1930s travelling around India in his work for
the nationalist cause, discovered during his tours an India with an underlying
unity that drew from the land and was expressed through its people:
what they meant by Mother India. For a time during the struggle for inde-
that of the subcontinent. The idea had emerged prominently in the agitation
against the first partition of Bengal in 1905 and remained fixed in national
consciousness through the rallying song,
Vande Mataram
Mother), which Congress used as a prime song of protest against the raj and
to promote the idea of national unity during its
Beyond empire and nation
lish new linkages as part of the process of creating new national identities.
But that was to be in the future.
Before 1947 the general objective of the Indian National Congress had
been to win political freedom for a nation covering the entire subcontinent.
raj and political freedom would apply to all of it. After 1947, however, the
truncated and separated nations on the subcontinent created a reality that
Congress, nor even of the Muslim League that had wanted a larger and more
Immediately, both Congress and the League were faced with the fact of the
truncation of what they had long considered national space, though for each it
was different. The process of coming to terms with what they had, rather than
what they had aspired to, was made even more traumatic by the surgical divi-
sion of the two border provinces, Bengal and Punjab, with each divided into
two parts. The division of Bengal was the less difficult. Punjab posed greater
problems, given the intermixing of Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs throughout
the provinces. Since the Congress and the Muslim League were unable to
agree on how the provinces were to be partitioned, the task of ensuring a fair
division was assigned to an independent arbiter, Cyril Radcliffe. He was to
Beyond empire and nation
the two nations’ borders but when told that Toba Tek Singh was in Pakistan
he refused to move but remained standing there through the night till he col-
lapsed, dead. Manto (1987:18) concludes the story: ‘There, behind barbed wire,
on one side, lay India and behind more barbed wire, on the other side, lay
Beyond empire and nation
I felt – there is no other word for it – a sense of having come home. And I
kept asking myself why. I was born  ve years after Partition. What did I
parents and grandparents? Why should this place, which I had never seen,
seem more like home than Delhi, where I had lived practically all my life?
unique. Others were surer and stayed where they were: a significant propor-
tion of Hindus remained in East Pakistan (East Bengal), while many more
Muslims stayed in India than fled as refugees or, in more ordered fashion,
Controlling city space
The decolonization of the subcontinent created two new nations and, in
Beyond empire and nation
British power with the formal inauguration of New Delhi in 1931 (Frykenberg
not exclusive. Wealthy Indians also lived there, for example in Malabar and
Cumballa Hills in Bombay, as indeed did a whole panoply of Indians who
provided the services necessary for residents to live in the luxury and comfort
they expected. Similarly, large Indian business firms clustered where their
European counterparts gathered, as in the Fort area of Bombay. Such locali-
ties were commonly viewed in terms of dominance in function and power as
being raj in character while the areas where the wealthy and powerful did
not live, were on occasion referred to with terms like the ‘native town’, the
Beyond empire and nation
(present-day Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) of the then G.I.P. Railway on one
side, and the Bombay Municipal Corporation headquarters on the other. In
one notable confrontation on 1 August 1930, which began in the evening
peak hour,
described it (Hutchins 1971). The initial reaction, before moving into exten-
Beyond empire and nation
10 August in Bombay in the confrontations and six the following day, though
thereafter the toll was in injuries rather than in deaths. Concurrent with the
century the government put considerable effort into accessing and control-
tive fines on troublesome localities. They were eventually able to quell disor-
der and show that the writ of the raj was present, but it was always tenuous
When independence did finally come all raj space became Indian (and
Pakistani). The contestation with a foreign power was over and the celebra-
tions during the week of independence were euphoric, at least in those cities
and regions not immediately affected by the rising tide of anarchy. Elsewhere,
as in Calcutta where Gandhi fasted on the day of independence and busi-
nesses were closed in fear, the mood was of deep gloom. But Bombay had
that everybody had to see. Enthusiasm was so intense that through the night
people drove around the city in cars, on the backs of trucks, and in victorias
(horses and carriage) to take in the sights. To handle the crush of traffic much of
the city was converted into a one-way grid. People were jubilant and sang and
Beyond empire and nation
through the buildings, but it was not long thereafter before a new power
structure asserted itself. Within a day entry into government buildings was
stopped except for official purposes even though the buildings were now
under Indian authority and control. The old template of raj power had
become a template of Indian governmental power.
Similarly, the successor government replicated raj attitudes to the control
songs were now acceptable and no longer carried the challenge they had
presented in the days of the raj. Needed now for nation building they were to
through struggle and tried to bring everybody into the struggle. Its objective
Beyond empire and nation
the northwest and as refugees brought their stories to the city. The rioting
governor general, Lord Mountbatten, tried to leave with the nation’s prime
minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, perched on the front of the carriage. As it pushed
slowly through the throng, people from the crowd surged forward cheering
barriers were being broken down in all sorts of ways.
Nehru brought Old Delhi back into the picture with an address at the
Red Fort on the morning of 16 August, the second day of independence. He
a means of pointing out that the period of British rule was short in terms of
1857 Mutiny and some of the recent imprisonment in the Red Fort of freedom
fighters. Just as the raj had tried to absorb the aura of the Mughal Empire
through appropriating durbars, so Nehru and his government located them-
selves under a similar umbrella of association. Each year after 1947 it became
customary for the prime minister to deliver an address from the ramparts of
Beyond empire and nation
in from Delhi as the last viceroy of India in order to be present the next day
general of Pakistan. The crowds in Karachi were as tumultuous and as
exultant as they were to be in Delhi the next day; they cheered Mountbatten
enthusiastically and hailed Jinnah triumphantly as the great leader, the
Beyond empire and nation
Manto, Saadat Hasan
Kingdom’s end and other stories
. Translated from the Urdu by Khalid
Hasan. London/New York: Verso.
Masselos, Jim
1977 ‘Power in the Bombay “Moholla”, 1904-15; An initial exploration into
the world of the Indian-urban Muslim’,
South Asia
1982 ‘Change and custom in the format of the Bombay Mohurrum during
the 19th and 20th centuries’,
South Asia
New Series 5-2:47-67.
1987 ‘Audiences, actors and Congress dramas; Crowd events in Bombay city
in 1930’, in: Jim Masselos (ed.),
Struggling and ruling; The Indian National
Congress 1885-1985
. Delhi: Sterling. [Asian Studies Association of
Australia South Asian Publications Series 2.]
1990 ‘“The magic touch of being free”; The rituals of independence on
August 15’, in: Jim Masselos (ed.),
India; Creating a modern nation
, pp.
37-53. New Delhi: Sterling.
1991 ‘Appropriating urban space; Social constructs of Bombay in the time of
the Raj’,
South Asia
14:33-63. [Special issue ‘Aspects of “the public” in
colonial South Asia’.]
1996 ‘India’s Republic Day; The other 26 January’,
South India
[Special issue ’Asia and Europe: Commerce, colonialism and cultures;
Essays in honour of Sinnappah Arasaratnam’.]
1998 ‘Bombay, August 1942; Re-readings in a nationalist text’, in: Biswamoy
Pati (ed.),
Turbulent times; India 1940-1944
, pp. 67-107. Mumbai: Popular
2002 ‘Time and nation’, in: Sujata Patel, Jasodhara Bagchi and Krishna Raj
Thinking social science in India; Essays in honour of Alice Thorner
, pp.
342-54. New Delhi/Thousand Oaks/London: Sage.
Masselos, Jim and Narayani Gupta
Beato’s Delhi, 1857, 1997
. Delhi: Ravi Dayal.
Nehru, Jawaharlal
The discovery of India
. Calcutta: Signet Press.
Norman, Dorothy
Nehru; The 
rst sixty years
. Vol. 2. London: Bodley Head.
1988 ‘Congress and the nation, 1917-1947’, in: Richard Sisson and Stanley
Wolpert (eds),
Congress and Indian nationalism; The pre-independence
, pp. 121-33.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Remembering Partition; Violence, nationalism and history in India
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Philips, C.H. and M.D. Wainwright (eds)
The Partition of India; Policies and perspectives 1935-1947
. London: Oxford
University Press.
Prasad, Rajendra (ed.)
Young India, 1927-1929
. Madras: Swatanthara Press.
Sahai, Govind
’42 Rebellion; An authentic review of the great upheaval of 1942
. Delhi:
Rajkamal Publications.
Saiyid, M.H.
Mohammad Ali Jinnah; A political study
. Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf.
Talbot, Ian
Freedom’s cry; The popular dimension in the Pakistan movement and partition
experience in North-West India
. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
Wolpert, Stanley
Jinnah of Pakistan
. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Ziegler, P.
Mountbatten; The of
cial biography
. Glasgow: Fontana and Collins.
Land tenure and regime change
Land tenure systems are culturally specific or social conventions (Deiniger
Beyond empire and nation
Philippines Commonwealth in 1935 as a first step towards full independence
within twelve years. The most important Philippine politicians were part of
the landed elite and were of a Catholic, Spanish-Creole background. These
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
In colonial Indonesia we see two cases of how drastically land rules
are changed following a political watershed. Immediately after the British
assumed control of Java in 1811, the Lieutenant Governor, Thomas Stamford
Raffles, nationalized every last acre of privately owned land and imposed a
Beyond empire and nation
right to use a plot, and this right is vested in the title. Outsiders, however,
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
cifically addressed in the Basic Agrarian Law. Local diversity had been at odds
with the idea of national unity for as long as the archipelago had been regarded
as a whole. The sheer size and cultural variation were enough to hamper
Beyond empire and nation
de jure
property of
the state); state domain given to companies in long lease (only in rural areas);
and land that had acquired a European title of full private ownership.
The European land title was almost exclusively found in cities and towns.
Colonial jurists realized that if the prohibition of land sales from indigenous
to nonindigenous people was applied in urban areas, development there
would be severely hampered. To solve this problem, the state had the right
to distribute new plots with property rights based on European law, but only
The state could also grant the right to construct buildings
recht van opstal
property was clearly the preferred title. Urban land with a European title was
relatively expensive. Owners had to pay the administrative costs of survey-
ing their land parcel and transferring its title at the cadastre upon acquisition.
). Such costs and effort
were only warranted if the land had certain specific purposes. One advan-
tage of a European title was that it offered the highest degree of security, and
this was considered necessary if the owner intended to carry out major and
expensive construction work in brick or cement. The precise measurement
of a land parcel with a European title was also necessary in shopping areas,
where shops were built in an unbroken line up to the exact boundary of the
Security depended not only on precise measurement and registration,
but also on the type of law which applied. A European title was based on the
elaborate and written Civil Code, whereas indigenous rights were based on
to credit, banks would only approve a mortgage on land with a European title
(Logemann 1936:8-11).
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
Hedges, trees, and ditches served as boundary markers. Changes in own-
Beyond empire and nation
only rests on a persuasive narrative revealing who first arrived on a terri-
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
Beyond empire and nation
2, 154-71). Moreover, most of the
regulations were unwritten, so the
bar, which had more faith in written statutory law, was frequently at a loss
as to which rule to apply (Gautama and Harsono 1972:24-9). Gautama and
Hornick (1972:106) concluded in the 1970s that at that time there was ‘prob-
ably more legal uncertainty about agrarian law and rights in land than there
was before enactment of the basic law’.
An added source of potential uncertainty was communal landownership.
members of the group of landowners did not. A good example can be found
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
A had been its own ancestral land, but that the members of lineage B had fled
vices to the sultan or apanage holder. On 1 January 1925, the sultan reclaimed
the urban apanages. All legal users of land – subjects of the sultan – received
an indigenous title deed. The four kampongs that surrounded the royal palace
) held a special position in the sense that the property was not freely
alienable; a transfer of the title required royal approval. Yogyakarta also knew
European titles, which were issued to nonindigenous residents until 1918,
when the sultanate promulgated its own Domain Declaration. From then on,
nonindigenous residents could only acquire a new plot by renting it from
recht van opstal
, not owner-
ship) from the sultan.
Nothing changed in Yogyakarta during the Japanese
reign in terms of landownership rules. After the proclamation of Indonesian
independence, the Sultan of Yogyakarta decided to support the Republic,
Beyond empire and nation
Following independence and pending a national agrarian law, Yogyakarta
issued local regulations called Peraturan Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta
1954/2. Coming six years before the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960, this swiftly
introduced local legislation may have increased confidence in the tenure
regulations, however, ownership of individual plots could be insecure. In the
but often such hurried transfers were not recorded at the cadastre (Dinas
Agraria D.I.Y. 1974). Apparently it was not only the Dutch sellers but also the
Although the Sultan of Deli in Medan (North Sumatra) had lacked the
wide administrative powers and prestige of his counterpart in Yogyakarta,
domain. A current resident of royal descent told me that in the late colonial
proof of his permission. It seems that, in practice, many people were allowed
to live on the sultan’s land as long as they acknowledged his sovereign
rights. No substantial payment was required to obtain a sultan’s grant. As the
sultan only gave grants to his subjects, neither Chinese, European, nor Indian
residents could acquire land from him (Jansen 1925:101). Even Tjong A Fie, a
well-known property owner in colonial Medan who allegedly owned half of
The sultan did not keep a central registry of all his grants, but many
prudent grant holders carefully saved their deeds. As the sultan’s grants
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
auction’s yield because Djoe Sen Tjong still had a very large tax debt. In its
final ruling the Supreme Court decided in 1927 in favour of the tax collec-
tor. Suddenly, creditors lost confidence in their collateral. As a result of the
ruling, creditors wanted the sultan’s grants they had accepted as collateral
converted into European titles, but owners of sultan’s grants remained reluc-
tant to do so because of the costs. In the hope of ending the insecurity, the
Handelsvereeniging Medan (Trade Association of Medan) urged the govern-
ment to convert all grants into European titles free of charge. However the
The validity of the sultan’s grants was based in part on the sultan’s pres-
had remained in place during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. As a
descendant recalled, the sultan used to hang a portrait of Hirohito on the wall
behind him whenever he received Japanese officers. As the officers bowed
to their emperor, they were unwittingly also paying homage to the sultan
as well. However, after independence was proclaimed a social revolution
swept this part of Sumatra. Most royal families were discredited as colonial
Beyond empire and nation
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
Lists of lost deeds were regularly published in the local newspaper, presum-
tuut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Leiden (hereafter KITLV), Manuscript H 1156
Beyond empire and nation
and digging drainage canals. They bought strips of land that were deemed
necessary for future infrastructural works or state buildings. They also pur-
chased plots in order to build up a stock of land; the aim was to swap this
for specific privately-owned plots that the administration might need later.
Some development corporations bought large tracts of rural land bordering
the cities and towns for future urban development. The last aim of develop-
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
need not be profitable because urban development costs money (Verslag
Beyond empire and nation
for other, ordinary claimants who might want to change a road plan.
Once the Deli Maatschappij lost the protection of the Dutch colonial gov-
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
semi-public company that purchased another 200,000 acres using money bor-
rowed at a commercial rate.
The Dutch colonial government started buying land again during the four
post-Pacific War years when it controlled most of the cities. In 1949 a com-
mission composed of representatives of the government and 43 large estates
near Jakarta negotiated a standard agreement of purchase by the state. Most
estates were limited liability companies run by Chinese directors. The state
thus acquired another 1,1 million acres. However, the commission was unable
to strike a deal with the owners of estates near Semarang and Surabaya. All
Beyond empire and nation
Squatters’ land
Lasserve and Royston 2002:4-5). During Dutch colonial rule, landless people
had little opportunity to squat, but there might also have been less of a need
for squatting because urban populations were smaller. In the late colonial
period, state control over the urban population gradually tightened; squat-
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
became much easier to move people in the interest of development projects
(Abeyasekere 1989:198; Gautama and Harsono 1972:13). Nevertheless, com-
munist organizations provided some protection to squatters in the early
insecure. In 1966, after both civilian and military officials as well as private
issued a decree warning local government officials not to assist in evictions
Beyond empire and nation
I have used land tenure as a lens through which to gain insight into Indonesian
decolonization. Security of tenure is very important to people. During decolo-
nization, the legal certainty of tenure is questioned. During any regime
of tenure is endangered in two ways: entire tenure systems change and the
Solid as a rock, or a handful of dust?
deeds at the cadastre was temporarily suspended. When peace had been
more or less restored a score of lawsuits were filed. These lawsuits show that
owners had to fight hard to regain control of their land, and that their success
While property owners feared the insecurity of tenure, for others it rep-
resented an opportunity. In Indonesia, the legal uncertainty of individual
former owners made it possible to squat. Although squatting did not lead
to legal certainty, it did seem to be an accepted form of tenure for a while.
This lasted as long as the squatters had powerful allies and protectors in the
communist party.
To sum up, the decolonization of tenure systems in Indonesia culminated
in the Basic Agrarian Law of 1960, which aimed to increase tenure certainty
Beyond empire and nation
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This chapter is a response to a particular question: what happened to the
colonial city in Africa following decolonization? What was the colonial city?
If one can generalize from the African continent as a whole, colonialism was
Beyond empire and nation
colonial subjects were permitted to reside only on sufferance to the extent that
they fulfilled an essential economic purpose. To take one of the most famous
the Sudan and Ghana, had also become independent. However, the end of
Portuguese colonialism only dates from 1975 and there continued to be an
armed struggle over the future of Rhodesia and South-West Africa later than
that. It is perhaps appropriate to date the end of a very long era of conflict
with the creation of a democratic, nonracial dispensation in South Africa as
recently as 1994.
If this last event ends what John Saul likes to term a ‘thirty year’s war’ for
Beyond empire and nation
However, if we try to capture the typical situation under late colonial-
ism, it was one where the state attempted to reconcile a modernist approach
to urban development and planning with increasing openings towards the
incorporation of the rapidly expanding African populations. This involved
substantial plans for housing construction and the expansion of urban plan-
ning bureaucracies and mechanisms to the extent that resources existed.
Independence did not really alter this situation very much. Particularly again
the suitability of the cities as sites of individual reinvention for rural men
and women, the many spin-offs that were involved in greatly increasing
state expenditure and, to some extent, import substitution industrialization,
also attracted unprecedented numbers of migrants to the cities of Africa.
This growth, which had started in colonial times, accelerated after 1960 and
everywhere spun out of the control of the forces at the disposal of the state for
controlling the cities. Thus the planning of urban space increasingly became
inoperative as forces from below started to remould African cities. In this
chapter I will argue that in the early independence phase there was a balance
Beyond empire and nation
Jews, and those Muslim Algerians who felt too implicated in the colonial
project departed quickly and dramatically. Depopulation was a very tempo-
and the new opportunities created by transformed Algeria attracted massive
the failure to accommodate what we now call ‘informal’ activity mounted. In
Algiers and presumably elsewhere in Algeria, the result has been a relaxation,
if not often collapse, of modernism, and a growing tolerance of laissez-faire
class beginning to search for a more privatized and property-orientated way
of life in the city.
The other model that emerges from a dysfunctional transition to indepen-
dence is observable in what had been the Belgian Congo. Without rehearsing
the unfolding of events there from 1960, one can first point to a quick and
poorly planned push to independence by the Belgian regime, which seems to
continued dominance through divide-and-rule tactics. Instead, mutiny and
rebellion quickly began to tear the country apart and destroyed the tissue of
neocolonialism as conceived in Brussels. Later massive areas of the Congo
went into revolt in the hopes of a more genuine ‘second independence’, while
ineffectual and weak governments ruled in Léopoldville, renamed Kinshasa.
Beyond empire and nation
call modernist, the remarkable thing about the built environment of Kinshasa
itself has been its attenuation. The old colonial core remains and continues to
house government buildings and those commercial activities that cement the
Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ties with the West, especially the loan-giv-
tion of new housing or effective planning. In more prosperous situations,
centre cities have decayed while the middle class looks after its own needs in
Beyond empire and nation
shake down sections of the city very effectively. Lagosians have died in large
numbers from terrifying explosions and fires in recent years, not to speak
themselves as they transcend established boundaries of gender activity.
I should like to point as well here to two other tendencies that appear sys-
Beyond empire and nation
but also hundreds of thousands from the savannah countries, particularly
Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), once joined as a colonial territory to the Ivory
Coast, and Mali. There were also many migrants from other neighbouring
countries such as Dahomey (Bénin), Togo, Liberia, and Ghana. Immigrants
often were able to own land and to find their way into the professions and
civil service as well as the informal commercial sector where Ivorians were
working class. Up to a third of the population can be defined as being of
‘foreign origin’.
state mounted enormously. From 1990, Houphouët-Boigny, who had always
bought out and incorporated political opposition, was forced to accept a
Pierre Janne in
(Octobre 2000). Offical figures are considerably lower,
only 26% and declining in the last census (Kipre 2002:106). This is a useful guide to the first
phases of the current Ivorian political crisis.
party system that threatened his political machine’s smooth running.
When he died in 1993, he was succeeded by a far less smooth or effective
political operator, Henri Konan Bédié. Bédié was the promoter of what was
– a philosophy that exalted those who could prove that they
and their parents were indigenous Ivorians. This opened a Pandora’s box.
On the one hand, it took off as a popular slogan for Ivorians who could
identify with it in their frustration at a stagnant or declining economy and
blame it on outsiders or foreigners. On the other, it was seen with mounting
Beyond empire and nation
West African city. But there is no question that this classic city of import
substitution, of the strong state, of peasant export crops, of the neocolonial
bargain of 1960, is reeling from the impact of a turn inwards. This turn
inwards must be related to the decline and present limited prospects of
the previous economic system that created the Ivorian miracle. And initia-
tives at reconstruction on the basis of more modest forms of growth were
really aimed at hardening class lines and creating a new and potentially
less humane kind of urbanism in Abidjan where they have come on line;
they are about identifying and privileging the minority still able to feed the
circulation of money in a substantial way (Bredeloup 2002). Nor is there the
sign of a new moral order creating a new rainbow on the horizon. Abidjan is
not dying, but it is altering in the new environment in important ways. The
This is effectively the second point I wish to make: the decline of mod-
ernist planning has led to the opening of opportunities accruing to the rich
and privileged by the collapse of conventional state planning controls. In the
ensuing mayhem, the rich are often well able to care for themselves and to
strike out on development paths that divide some African cities more dra-
matically and ferociously along class lines than in colonial times. A notice-
able feature of all the North African cities today also has been uncontrolled
building on the periphery by the favoured and fortunate (Chabbi 1988).
of the rural population ruled through chiefs and an adaptation of precolonial
Durban: A postmodern urban centre in South Africa?
Since 1994, urban problems have been the challenge faced by a new govern-
Beyond empire and nation
mid-century, especially in the years of economic recovery following the
withdrawal from the Commonwealth and the establishment of the republic
in l960. The following decade witnessed more rapid growth in Durban than
average for the country.
Well before the end of apartheid, the material conditions allowing for this
pattern began to become less favourable. This created particular challenges
for the new era that dawned from the late 1970s as this segregated struc-
ture began to manifest growing cracks in the wall. The city had carried out
the construction of large family orientated housing estates for African and
Indian people, but these estates were poorly serviced with basic amenities,
especially the African ones. Servicing required money and after 1980 employ-
ment ceased to expand in the city, particularly for the working class, creating
increasing tensions and politicizing struggles over rent and over payments
for electricity and other basic services. There were few licit economic activi-
Beyond empire and nation
whom Indians rented land or shacks. In 1949 it was the scene of the infamous
Cato Manor African-Indian ‘race riots’ that were partly instigated by ambi-
tious African would-be entrepreneurs. In the 1950s it became associated with
although acting with a certain structural autonomy, and large-scale state
intervention financially. The results have been correspondingly positive in
important ways. Housing has proceeded and has included some interesting
experiments involving more quality and potential for community construc-
without patronage taken into account, thus creating citizens rather than pat-
rimonial clients. The foundation for far more building has been laid. Indian
Beyond empire and nation
create jobs and no desire to try to channel private funds forcibly in directions
business does not seek. A thriving private sector has been adjudged to be
the bedrock of any national future and, in the globalized environment, this
dramatically limits structured interventions. And, finally, Cato Manor is only
very marginally ‘nonracial’; it is a black community, in part due to the choice
to create almost no middle-class housing, although the income mix is greater
than in many other South African state housing schemes. At best, Cato Manor
is now another urban township with all the problems experienced by the
Beyond empire and nation
Enwezor, Carlos Basualdo, Ute Meta Bauer, Susanne Ghez, Sarat
Maharaj, Mark Nash and Octavio Zaya (eds),
Under siege; Four African
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Beyond empire and nation
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The transfer of power in Africa; Decolonization 1940-1960.
Second print.
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This chapter addresses an issue that has barely been studied in a comparative
perspective, that of urban residential segregation – the policies and practices
of urban residential zoning during colonialism, and their continuation after
Beyond empire and nation
The change of power at independence did not bring an enormous shift
in the structure of the African city. Indeed, independence created a pattern
that before had only existed in West Africa: segregation as a political ide-
ology became unlawful everywhere. As a consequence of the transfer of
sovereignty, a sudden mobility was put in motion: an African bourgeoisie
people of other backgrounds. This did not change in the postcolonial period.
But social zoning there was. As a rule, the state did not pay attention
Beyond empire and nation
directions, when Lomé, having become the capital of an independent state,
continued to be mixed – it is today probably still the most residentially mixed
African city – while apartheid created an authoritarian and late white order
in Cape Town. In Dakar, measures of exclusion were also taken in the name
of order and seemliness: thus, a police rule forbade the use of donkey carts,
the Plateau, the centre of business and colonial government. This measure
effectively denied access to these places to ‘natives’ of the popular classes
that constructed the notion of ‘in herently
unhygienic races’ to demonstrate the racial ‘inferiority’ of non-Europeans
(Murunga 2003). Here, as well as elsewhere, the ‘sanitation’ argument
remained in use when the first urban planning proposals were adopted
before and after World War II.
On the hygienic and segregationist transformation, see: Call 1986 (on Western Africa) and
Curtin 1985 (on Accra); Cohen 1983; Goerg 1996; Swanson 1977; Frenkel and Western 1988; Gale
Colonial policies for the rural and urban areas differed. As a rule, African
people were considered to be ‘naturally’ rural people and ‘strangers to the
rural land laws came in many forms, and regulations might differ from one
Beyond empire and nation
land. It was only in 1978, well after independence, that the Land Use Act
planned to uniform these laws. Until now, the local people have not respected
to constructors several times, creating complicated situations that gener-
ate quarrels, law suits, and violence (Oruwaro 2003). These kinds of affairs
popped up as early as colonial city construction started.
The situation was similarly complex in the cities of Francophone Africa
where, officially, the colonial authorities only recognized private property.
It did not recognize customary property rights, except in certain cases. The
Lebous of Dakar offer an example; they pugnaciously made themselves
known as the first occupants and, therefore, the legitimate owners of the
land. Legally, since the land decree of 1904 in French West Africa, the state
master’ each time that an act of registration of private ownership had not
However, this registration was unknown to the majority of the
rural autochthonous population, who were largely illiterate and uninformed.
The French state thus had the opportunity to disown whomever they wanted
Beyond empire and nation
Beyond empire and nation
it was a prestigious South African team of an architect, an engineer, and a
sociologist that originated the 1945-1946 general plan of Nairobi (Comhaire
The Nairobi populace is a multiracial one. […] It is a fascinating task to
Colonial urban planning was born in these immediate postwar years. Of
course, rough drafts of city plans had previously existed, particularly for the
establishment of the colonial capitals, such as Nairobi in Kenya or Conakry
instituted in 1926, it was created by an order of the general government on 10-3-1951. Inventory
of the Archives of Senegal, volume 4P, Urbanism, introduction, Dakar, 2000.
Beyond empire and nation
waves triggered by the regrouping of families that had been split by apart-
Beyond empire and nation
The former policy of the colonial government that divided residential urban
land into low-, medium- and high-density areas remained in force, even if
residential segregation by race was abolished. Spontaneous self-segregation
followed the lines of previous enforced legal residential segregation. In the
Beyond empire and nation
The contention here is not that all colonial urban systems were alike. But from
a bird’s eye perspective, the major problems of African cities do not appear to
be very dissimilar from each other today. Whatever the colonial heritage, of
legal segregation or not, of having been colonized by either British or French,
Even the formulation of the problem as a racial one is slowly becoming
inoperative as class differentiation takes place in every social group. As
soon as there are rich and poor, intellectual and lowbrow, professionally
trained and unskilled, as recognizable types in every race, with interracial
organizations, each pressing for bigger slices of the cake, multiracial
Beyond empire and nation
1971 ‘The establishment of the Medina in Dakar, Senegal, 1914’,
41- 2:143-52.
Call, John W.
1986 ‘Anglo-Indian medical theory and the origin of segregation in West
, American Historical Review
Campbell, Elizabeth
UNHCR and contemporary protection challenges; The case of urban refugees
in Nairobi.
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author of a number of books on slavery and labour in (post)colonial Africa
Colonialism in question; Theory, knowledge, history
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Abdullah Ahmad Badawi 158
African National Congress 255
Aguman ding Malding Talapagobra
(General Workers Union) 173-4
Alexander, Jennifer 84
Alexander, Paul 84
Ali Wardhana 129
All Burma Volunteers 144
Ambon, Ambonese 143, 148, 227
Amsterdam 27
Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League
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Bounty, HMS 26
Bowling, P.J. 275
Federation of Free Farmers 176
Federation of Free Workers 176
France, French 7, 10, 12, 23-7, 31-4, 39-
Frank, Andre Gunder 29
Frederick, William H. 146
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Indonesia 3-4, 8-9, 11-4, 17, 25, 32-3, 42,
99-101, 109-10, 114, 121-32, 139-46,
In eld, Henrik 172
Institute of Social Order 176
International Labour Organisation 182,
Beyond empire and nation
Niger 11, 276
Nkrumah, Kwame 28, 53, 58, 63
North Africa 32-3, 44-5, 242, 244, 254
North Korea 97
Nyerere 281
Oei Tiong Ham 74
Orwell, George 160
Ouattara, Alassane 253
Paci c 168-9
Paci c War 82, 109, 123, 139, 144, 156,
Pakistan 4, 11, 190-7, 203, 205-8
Pal, Agaton 179-80
Paraguay 112, 116
Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) 158
Pearl Harbor 114
Pekanbaru 229
People’s Action Party 159-60
Rodney, Walter 28
Roff, W.R. 85
Roosevelt, Franklin D. 113
Rotterdam 126
Round Table Conference 124
Roxas, Manuel 114-5, 118
Said, Edward 25
Sarekat Dagang Islam 77
Sarekat Islam 77
Sartre, Jean-Paul 28
Scheffer, C.F. 128
Schulte Nordholt, Henk 145
Senghor, Léopold 45-7, 49-50, 63
Singapore 26, 72, 95, 100, 137-8, 143, 154,
Sjafruddin Prawiranegara 125-6, 129
Soekiman Wirjosandjojo 125
Soemitro Djojohadikoesoemo 126-8
Sorel, Georges 27
South Africa 35, 70, 214, 243-4,
South America 128
South Asia 4, 70, 145, 189, 243
Southeast Asia 3, 14, 69-73, 75-6, 78, 80,
87-8, 91, 94, 96, 98-9, 114, 123, 137-
Southeast Asia Command (SEAC) 148,
South Korea 95-9
Beyond empire and nation
Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) 146
Teunissen, H. 126-7
Thijsse, Jac P. 228
Tichi, Joël 253
Tif n, Helen 30
Timor Leste 145-6, 152
Tirtoadisoerjo 77
Tjong A Fie 224

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