Subjects, Lawmaking And Land Rights: Agrarian Regime And State Formation In Late-Colonial Netherlands East Indies
In this dissertation I interrogate colonial state formation in the Netherlands East Indies between 1870 and 1939, using the lens of land appropriation sanctioned by colonial laws. Drawing on archival sources from the Netherlands and Indonesia, I dissect the constitution of the colonial agrarian regime as a distinctive project of statemaking in which the colonizer and the colonized actively participated. My key objective is to foreground the role of the colonized subjects and the autonomy of their enunciations and strategies in the everyday making of "the state," a contrast with many accounts of state-making in the Netherlands East Indies. I argue that the constitution of the colonial agrarian regime involved not only lawmaking, but also, and perhaps more importantly, the making of subjects. I also argue that it was human agents having myriad forms of association with state institutions who carried out these practices, such that they blur the boundary between "the state" and "subjects." Drawing on Abrams and Foucault, I focus on a number of critical subject-Native intellectuals, Dutch planters, and Native and Indo-European politicians among others-and their discursive battles to showcase how the complex relations of state formation and practices unfold. This focus, away from the state as a reified object of study and into the various processes of state-making, offers an understanding of the tensions and convergences between the colonizers and the colonial subjects. Training the gaze upon colonial subjects renders visible a process of colonial state formation that was not consisted of a continuous stream of one-way domination. Rather, colonial state formation emerges as pulsations of power-one moment contracting, the next expanding-and as interplays of power rife with ambivalence and contestations in which a wide spectrum of the colonized subjects played indispensable roles.
State Formation; Netherlands East Indies; Agrarian Laws; Land Rights; Lawmaking; Colonial Subjects
Geisler, Charles C
Ph. D., Development Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis