'The Javanese is soft and docile' : deconstructing masculinities in ethnography about the Netherlands Indies
Title: 'The Javanese is soft and docile' : deconstructing masculinities in ethnography about the Netherlands Indies
Author: KAMPHUIS, Kirsten
Citation: Leidschrift : historisch tijdschrift, 2015, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 163-178
ISSN: 0923-9146; 2210-5298
This quote served as the motto to the 1907 book Java. Geographisch, Ethnologisch, Historisch, door Prof. P.J. Veth. Vierde Deel: Etnographie, and it is illustrative of the discourse about power, legitimacy and colonialism that is displayed throughout this work. However discordant a quote from the beginning of the twentieth century may come across in a journal dedicated to second-wave feminism, it is not out of place here. As will become evident from the next few pages, second-wave feminism was not only a social movement, but also an intellectual one that gave rise to academic developments that are still highly relevant today. As such, it provides historians of gender and colonialism with methodological tools. With the help of these approaches, I will turn to questions of gender in a specific Dutch ethnographic text about the Netherlands Indies, and take apart the notions of masculinity and colonial power relations that constitute it. As a case study I will use the aforementioned ethnographical work about the island of Java to demonstrate that the portrayal of native masculinity in this work can be interpreted as a legitimization of colonial power.
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