Bangka in the 1950's: Indonesian Authority and Chinese Reality
Heidhues, Mary Somers
“Bangka in the 1950s” looks into a somewhat under-reported period of Indonesian history, especially with respect to the Indonesian archipelago outside of Java. It bases its explorations on the recently recovered ethnographic notes of G. William Skinner's assistant, Tan Fay Tjhion. The author herself conducted fieldwork in this area around the same period, which gives her an intimate grasp of the historical mood of the era. Through the lens of Tan's notes, the article examines the period's deteriorating economic conditions and the turning tide against the Chinese, and how those were exhibited through the dynamics of the community (e.g., internal divisions) and state-community dynamics (e.g., Chinese schools were forced to close and prohibitions against gambling—gambling had hitherto been an accepted social norm for the Chinese—were enforced). Tan's materials illuminate that period of Indonesian history when the mood was turning against the Chinese and economically and culturally restrictive policies were beginning to be rolled out, not necessarily from the political center outward, but from regional military commanders who then influenced the center and other parts of the archipelago.
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Page range: 1-24
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program