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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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Glossary 189


Glossary adat: unwritten customary laws and practices; tradition, traditional. Balai Pustaka: governmental publishing house founded in 1908 by the Dutch colonial administration. Batavia: capital city of the Dutch East Indies, later renamed Jakarta. bini moeda: unofficial second wife, concubine, usually much younger than the man. Boemipoetra, boemi poetra: indigenous person. Buitenzorg: colonial town south of Batavia, now called Bogor; the Governor General’s palace was located here. cultuurstelsel: cultivation system (1830–1870) imposed by the Dutch colonial government on native farmers who were required to grow export crops. dagh-registers: VOC officials’ day-by-day journals of events in Batavia. fiscal: public prosecutor in VOC times. guna-guna: poison, black magic, indigenous ways to manipulate supernatural forces. HBS: see Hogere Burger School. hikayat: traditional Malay prose genre. Hogere Burger School (HBS): Dutch-language secondary school. H.B.S.-ster: female HBS student. Ibu: Mrs. Indische literatuur: literature written in Dutch set in the Dutch East Indies. Indo: mixed-blood Eurasian, in most cases a descendant of a European (usually Dutch) male colonizer and an indigenous woman. At times the term Indo includes full-blood Europeans who were born and raised in the Indies and therefore acculturated to Indies society and customs. inlander: derogatory Dutch term for native people. Jacatra: sixteenth-century port settlement, destroyed by the VOC to make space for Batavia. kebaya: blouse-dress for women, worn with a sarong. kassian: Malay expression for “it’s a pity”. Mas: Javanese term of address for a man. Nona: an unmarried young woman, in the colonial context most often a Eurasian or a European; also...

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