Relatively little had been written about Indonesia during World War II and the conflict between the Dutch and Japanese in the Pacific. In her recent memoir, All Ships Follow Me, Mieke Eerkens starts with the complexity of her father’s upbringing in colonial Indonesia. The son of a Dutch family that had lived in what was then called the Dutch East Indies for three generations, Eerkens’ father spent his first ten years living a life of privilege in Java. 

Performing the Arts of Indonesia: Malay Identity and Politics in the Music, Dance and Theatre of the Riau Islands, Margaret J Kartomi (ed) (NIAS press, July 2019)
Performing the Arts of Indonesia: Malay Identity and Politics in the Music, Dance and Theatre of the Riau Islands, Margaret J Kartomi (ed) (NIAS press, July 2019)

A fascinating and innovative study of the Malay performing arts of Kepri, Performing the Arts of Indonesia is the first of its kind. The volume, written by fifteen contributors, adds greatly to our knowledge of the cultures of a region previously receiving little attention and brings to light previously unknown material.

Like millions of Indonesian female workers abroad, Mega Vristian, the author of “The Jade Bracelet”, works as a live-in maid, performing domestic and care work. Their labor is indispensable in the global/regional labor market, which is in need of cheap, young female workers. At work, they face various forms of exploitation. It is this experience of inhuman working conditions that encourages some of them to take up a pen to tell and share their stories—sometimes in the form of a short story like this one. 

Commentaries on Islam in Indonesia—especially those attached to major political events such as the recent presidential election—often deal in simplistic binary terms: a uniform mass of apparently ascendant “conservative Muslims” is ranged against similarly uniform blocks of embattled urban liberals or rural traditionalists.

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.