Glocal Asian Studies Lecture Series: Lecture 4 | The Theatre State Revisited: Indonesia in the Short 20th Century

On November 6, 2019, Prof. Henk Schulte Nordholt from the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asia and the Caribbean and Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Prof. Xie Kankan, Associate Professor from Peking University, carried out the lecture of “The Theatre State Revisited: Indonesia in the Short 20th Century”, the 4th session of the Glocal Asian Studies Lecture Series at the Institute of International and Area Studies (IIAS) of Tsinghua University in Fall 2019.

First of all, Prof. Xie Kankan from Peking University introduced his research on the first communist movement in Indonesia. He reviewed the development of the Indonesian communist movement in the early 20th century, and emphasized that although the riots carried out by the Indonesian Communist Party in the 1920s failed, it had a profound impact on future generations.

Then, Prof. Henk Schulte Nordholt from Leiden University began to introduce his research results on colonies and modernization. He pointed out that in the first half of the 20th century, the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia hoped to promote mass consumption for the rise of a new indigenous middle class in Indonesia, and assist the modernization of the local middle class, thereby bridging the race boundary between the colonists and the colonized. However, contrary to expectations, this promise was eventually shattered. The native middle class of the Dutch East Indies did not get the modernization promised by the colonists, and commercial consumption could neither truly make them the same class as the colonists, nor assist the colonial rule. Instead, these indigenous Indonesian middle classes became the main ruling class after Indonesia’s independence.

The event ended successfully in a lively discussion between the two professors and the doctoral students and young scholars.

The Glocal Asian Studies Lecture Series hosted by IIAS of Tsinghua University was launched in Fall 2019. It aims to provide scholars participating in the events with a platform of dialogue and learning with top scholars studying Asia history and culture from all over the world. China’s area studies have been vigorously developed in the context of the “Belt and Road” Initiative in recent years. However, the current area studies are often a rigid superposition of country studies and lack intra-regional and inter-regional connections and comparative studies. The root cause is the missing of a long-term historical/cultural perspective in current area studies in China. The lecture series will invite top-notch and young scholars in the field of Asia studies at home and abroad to give special lectures on their latest research findings and communicate with participants. This will serve as an opportunity to cultivate area researchers’ transnational and global perspectives, and encourage them to reflect on the traditional research paradigm based on country.

By Guan Hao, Cheng Yao