Race is conceptualised in this book as a binding entity to which colonial interests and modus operandi were formed, as an idea of human differences that were scientifically validated and socially acceptable—at least for the those with power. The approach to identify and perpetuate racial types, or racialisation has undermined self-identities and collective histories in Nusantara. The region was at one point a geographical and cultural unit that celebrated the individualities of local kingdoms and their traditions, but were also recognized as having threads of continuities in language and culture, in politics and trade but this has fallen under the shadow of new knowledge and administration of various Western imperial rule.
Arguing that racial identities in Nusantara was made through altercating contacts between internal and external agencies, this book presents the complexities between imperial exchanges—Spanish, Dutch, British, American, German—and the contrasting currents of the region’s past. Among the key questions which this book attempts to answer are: how did “science” gave new elements to reconsider multifarious and overlapping Nusantara identities? What were the encounters between rigid classifications and fluid interactions between imperial administrators, researchers and local peoples? Did these lines of differences evolve over time?
This book traces themes in the history of racialisation in Nusantara through colonial sciences, racism, and displacement of self during the long centuries of subjugation in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Imperial powers had long stood on the grounds of race to promote and justify colonialism, but interactions between them created a new understanding of ‘race’ in Nusantara, a place of imagined and loose unity.
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