European colonial expansion led to Dutch notions of civilised society, or the Dutch's community's flexible and relatively charitable attitudes toward 'others', being scattered (as in the Greek word 'diaspeirein') to the four corners of the earth. In some cases, the exportation of Dutch cultural values to places overseas, like North America, endowed 'Dutchness' with subtle new meanings. But in colonial Indonesia, Dutch political customs and traditions were transformed in the process of migrating to exotic locales.
In this book, Frances Gouda examines the ways in which the Netherlands portrayed its unique colonial style to the outside world. Why were citizens of a small and politically insignificant European nation able to represent as natural and normal their dominance over ancient civilizations on islands such as Java and Bali? How did Dutch colonial residents explain the cultural differences between themselves and the supposedly 'primitive' peoples of the Indonesian archipelago?
In trying to understand the 'gendering' practices of colonial governance in the Netherlands East Indies, Gouda also explores the interactions of Dutch and Indonesian women with European men.
FRANCES GOUDA earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1980. She is currently professor of history and gender studies in the Political Science Department of the University of Amsterdam.
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