Room to manoeuvre in the Nineteenth-Century Indies Malay Press: The story of a Javanese Lieutenant

Ian Proudfoot

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The Netherlands Indies press censorship law of 1856 applied to the Indies Dutch-language press and the new Malay-language press alike. Editors of Malay-language newspapers were careful not to infringe the law, but also found ways of skirting its provisions to expand the political consciousness of their readers. Sometimes this involved publishing translations of contentious material that had already appeared in the Dutch-language press. An instance of this was the serial 'The story of a Javanese lieutenant' (Tjrita-an dari satoe Letenant Djawa) published in the Surabaya Malay newspaper Bintang Timor in 1865, which was based on a Dutch story (Een inlandsch Luitenant) by W.A. van Rees. The Malay version is translated in this article. The story cleverly advances a rational liberal argument against racial discrimination, both in general and specifically in the Indies army, where Europeans, Africans, Ambonese and Javanese served side by side. The process of translation has sharpened the story's subversive impact, by placing its critique before a Malay-reading subaltern audience, and by adapting it more effectively to non-elite perspectives and feelings about colonial society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)155-182
    JournalIndonesia and the Malay World
    Issue number102
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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