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No. 12, December 2000
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Columbia Chronologies of
Asian History and Culture
Indonesian history/a history of Indonesia as an example
Hardcover, 751 p., Columbia University Press, August 2000, ed. John S. Bowman. Get it from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.de

 
The Columbia Chronologies of Asian History And Culture, edited by John S. Bowman offers an overview of political history, arts, culture, thought and religion, science and technology, economics and everyday life of all Asian countries from the Paleolithic era through 1998. The more than 30 Asian countries are individually analyzed on 580 pages. According to its political, military, economic and demographic weight, a state gets more or less space. China is treated on 115, Japan on 75 and India on 120 pages. The almost 100 pages of appendices contain information on National and Independence days, scientific-technological achievements in Asia and a chronological comparative overview of what happened in Asia and Europe at a given time. The detailed index takes another 70 pages. To make a long story short, this is the most comprehensive Asian history available. The only, but crucial thing missing in this reference work is a bibliography which would allow a reader to dig further on a specific issue.
 
Let's take the entry on Indonesia as an example. Its story is summarized on 15 pages. The description begins with the Pleistocene epoch (approximately 1,8 million to 8 thousand B.C.). Early evidence (2000 B.C.- A.D. 500), early Kingdoms (500-1377) and the rise of the Islamic kingdoms (1290-1682) are the subsequent parts of the entry. The European presence in Indonesia takes a bit more than four pages. In 1511, Portuguese explorers captured the port of Malacca, erected a fort there and settled in, but Portuguese corruption and disorganization soon led to the loss of the sea-trade control of Malacca and to the rise of Sumatran maritime trade centers. In 1595-98, the first expeditions to the East Indies by competing Dutch trade companies took place. In 1602, the Dutch East India Company was formed with a merger of the competing companies. England also entered the spice trade. In 1605, the Dutch East India Company occupied Ambon and established its headquarters.
 
In the first half of the 20th century, the European presence in Indonesia became contested. In 1927, under the leadership of Ahmad Sukarno (1901-70), the Perserikatan Nasional Indonesia (PNI) was founded to unite nationalist groups in pacifist non-cooperation. Two years later, Sukarno was arrested, the PNI banned and absorbed by the Independent People's Pary (PRI) which sought independence through cooperation with the Dutch. In 1936, the Volksraad requested a discussion of steps to be taken toward self-government; Holland's agreement to do so was superseded by the Second World War in Europe. On January 11, 1942, Japan invaded Indonesia. On March 8, the Dutch in Java surrendered to Japan and the governor-general was arrested.
 
The history of Indonesia from 1942 to 1998 is summarized on four and a half pages. During the Japanese occupation from April 1942 to May 1945, many Indonesians collaborated with the Japanese but some of them also secretly planned for independence; one of the lessons they had learned was that their former Western masters could be defeated. The Japanese gradually imposed harsher and harsher measures including enforced labor and strict rationing. They also tried to enlist the support of Indonesians by promising independence, formally on September 7, 1944. As the Japanese were about to lose the war, they realized that the best they could do was to grant independence in order to prevent the Dutch from taking back Indonesia. But the end of the war came to abruptly.
 
On June 1, 1945, Sukarno proclaimed his Pancasila, the Five Principles of Unity that became the foundation for Indonesian nationalism. On August 10, the Japanese surrendered and accepted the Potsdam Agreement, under which the British forces would temporarily occupy Indonesia to protect the Dutch and other Allies. One week later, Sukarno declared the independence of the new republic that represented predominantly Javanese interests, with himself as head of state. August 17 is still today celebrated as the Indonesian independence day. But in September and October of 1945, British troops began to arrive. Japanese troops were still in Indonesia and decided to reinforce control. By early October, there was open warfare that continued for several weeks. In the end, the British took over. From October 28 to November 10, 1945, the British Indian troops fought Indonesian resistance at Surabaya. In a major sweep, the British killed some six thousand Indonesians, today commemorated on Heroes' Day on November 10.
 
In 1946, Indonesia was in turmoil. The Dutch tried to reassert control and Sukarno was only one of the competing Indonesian leaders, but he finally emerged as the only one who commanded enough respect to stop the violence. On November 12, 1946, the Dutch agreed to recognize Sukarno's republic, composed of Java, Sumatra and Madura, but only as a member of a federal United States of Indonesia what would leave the Dutch in control of the rest of Indonesia. Many Indonesians rejected the agreement and the turmoil continued. On July 20, 1947, the Dutch recommenced military operations, but stopped at the command of a United Nations resolution on August 4. On January 17, 1946, an agreement signed on the American warship USS Renville stated that the Dutch sovereignty would continue until a United States of Indonesia was established; the admission of states outside the republic would be submitted to popular vote.
 
It is impossible to repeat all the details here. The history of Indonesia ends in 1998, with Suharto's resignation on May 21 and the appointment of vice president Habibie to fill out his five-year term, but the army remained the power behind these developments. The account stops on September 1998 with Indonesia "on the verge of economic and social collapse." Therefore, there is no word about today's president, Wahid, his government and the turmoil Indonesia has experienced since.
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For more articles on history: History.
 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 12, December 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.