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Women and Malay Voices

Undercurrent Murmurings in Indonesia’s Colonial Past


Tineke Hellwig

Women and Malay Voices examines Malay literature by Chinese peranakan authors in the Dutch East Indies between 1915 and 1940. The narratives, some of them based on sensational murder trials reported in the news, offer insights into women’s lives and experiences and glimpses of female agency. With its primary focus on Malay texts and Asian women, this book offers a unique opportunity to hear subaltern voices and understand the lives of colonized women in new ways. Using feminist and postcolonial theories, this study juxtaposes the Malay texts with Dutch fiction and newspaper accounts to gain insight into how gender, race, and class are represented and what ideologies marked power relations in Dutch East Indies society.


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Chapter 2 Gramser Brinkman: A Double Murder and a Suicide 21


Chapter 2 Gramser Brinkman: A Double Murder and a Suicide In 1912 and 1914 the homicides of two young women, both of which pointed to a perpetrator named Willem Frederik Gramser Brinkman, made headlines in the media of Batavia’s colonial society. On Friday, May 17, 1912, the body of a young Indo woman was found floating in a gunny sack in the Kali Baroe river in the Indies capital. She was identified as Fientje de Feniks, about twenty years old. She was believed to have been murdered on the night of May 14. More than a year later, in July 1913, the Court of Justice started its hearings of the four accused men: the Indo Brinkman, and Indonesians Mardjoeki, Oemar, and Djamhari. The court case continued before the Landraad (Native Court, for Indonesians only) in January 1914, after which it returned to the Court of Justice. Even though the prosecutor demanded the death penalty for Brinkman and release for Mardjoeki, Oemar, and Djamhari, in the final verdict in May 1914 all four men were released. Five and a half months later, in the early morning hours of November 14, 1914, the guard of the Sentiong Chinese cemetery in Batavia discovered the naked body of a deceased Indonesian female. She turned out to be Aisah, a Lampung (South Sumatran) woman. Accused of her death were Brinkman and his German housemate Johan Emil Söffing. In May 1915 the Court of Justice started its sessions. While Söffing pleaded guilty, Brinkman maintained...

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