Print Power And Censorship In Colonial Indonesia, 1914-1942

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This dissertation examines the relation between censorship and print culture in colonial Indonesia. In the Dutch East Indies, censorship was primarily a political measure to deal with print culture, print power, and political activism. While it reflected the potency of the colonial state, it was not practiced exclusively in repressive ways, but manifested in many constructive programs and regulations to achieve comparable objectives. It oscillated between the liberal impulses of the colonial regime and its intrinsic insecurity. My research reveals that censorship in fact facilitated the development of print culture and print power in the Indies, rather than inhibited it. Conversely, in the course of its development, the Indies print culture came to shape state censorship. This dissertation investigates how and under what mechanism this symbiotic relationship took shape. More specifically, this dissertation draws attention to the fact that under the colonial censorship, newspapers, periodicals, and popular literature in the Malay language flourished in the first few decades of the twentieth century. Such vernacular media in turn helped stimulate and facilitate the Indies' conception of self, from which the so-called national awakening arose, all the while accomplishing its fundamental purpose to entertain an audience in an ever-changing colonial society. It was also thanks to censorship that popular literature became a political theater as a uniquely indigenous-based literary genre called roman pitjisan emerged, peddling Islamism and nationalism as entertainment. This inquiry also reveals that Indies censorship operated depending on internal and external political conditions. Domestic security threat and international structural change affected the types and rationales of censorship in the Indies. Changes in censorship essentially moved to one direction, that is a tighter one; yet, they simultaneously opened up new possibilities for print power to gain more popular supports. On their part, journalists and political activists were able to adapt, even took advantage of censoring mechanism. Ultimately, censorship affected the way print culture was formulated and gained "sovereign" power in colonial Indonesia.

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Censorship; Netherlands Indies; Indonesia


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Union Local


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Katzenstein, Peter Joachim

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Pepinsky, Thomas
Anderson, Benedict R. O'G.

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Ph. D., Government

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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