In the introduction to Soul Catcher: Java’s Fiery Prince Mangkunegara I, 1726–95, MC Ricklefs notes that fifty years ago the prospect of writing such a biography of a pre-20th-century Javanese figure would have been unthinkable. That such a project is now possible is surely in no small part down to the remarkable work that Ricklefs himself has done in the intervening half-century, opening up a wealth of archival sources as one of the foremost international scholars of Javanese history.

Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)
Networked: Business and Politics in Decentralizing Indonesia, 1998-2004, Wahyu Prasetyawan (NUS Press, August 2018)

Decentralization is among the most important political economic developments in Indonesia over the last thirty years. This book evaluates three cases (in the provinces of East Kalimantan, West Sumatra, and Riau) of deep-seated political conflict and intrigue implicating central government, local governments and multinational companies.

Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia, Vannessa Hearman (NUS Press, August 2018)
Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia, Vannessa Hearman (NUS Press, August 2018)

Drawing on interviews, archival records, and government and military reports, Vanessa Hearman traces the lives of a number of individuals, following their efforts to build a base for resistance in the South Blitar area of East Java, and their subsequent journeys into prisons and detention centres, or into hiding and a shadowy underground existence. She also provides a new understanding of relations between the army and its civilian supporters, many of whom belonged to Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama.

One of the major casualties of the Asian financial crisis was President Suharto who had been in power for thirty-two years. The crisis was a key point in Indonesia’s history, at the time it was unclear if the nation would make the necessary reforms to move forward or fall into further chaos. In Resurgent Indonesia, Vasuki Shastry investigates the effects of the 1997 Asian financial crisis on Indonesia and the subsequent fall of the authoritarian Suharto in 1998. He then deals with the process of building a democratic nation and the political environment in Indonesia in 2018. The book gives a detailed account of the crisis and recovery at the domestic level but also in the wider geopolitical context.

When we had finished tea, we went down to the beach. My host untied an outrigger canoe and pushed it out into the shallows. I rolled up my trousers and followed him, my backpack on my back. I tossed the backpack into the boat and climbed in. Soon we were out in the bay, the sea floor falling rapidly away beneath us, the water sparkling and clear. We paddled away from the land, and then he turned the boat to the north, following the line of the coast. It was a beautiful day, and it felt good to be out on the water.

Uncertainty, Anxiety, Frugality: Dealing with Leprosy in the Dutch East Indies, 1816-1942, Leo van Bergen (NUS Press, May 2018)
Uncertainty, Anxiety, Frugality: Dealing with Leprosy in the Dutch East Indies, 1816-1942, Leo van Bergen (NUS Press, May 2018)

In the early 19th century, the Dutch administration simply removed sufferers from public view: campaigns targeted anyone “looking ugly”. Towards the end of the century, colonial science considered leprosy a hereditary disease of tropical subjects, and therefore undeserving of the colonial government’s limited resources. The leprosariums were emptied.