“Ethical Ethnology”: The University of Leiden, Ethical Imperialism, and Education in the Dutch East Indies, 1910–30

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:20 PM
Sheffield Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Matthew Schauer, University of Pennsylvania
My paper examines the educational institutions created by the “Ethical Policies” instituted in the Netherlands Indies between 1910 and 1930. This “Ethical Imperialism” pushed towards the modernization of the Indies through increases in areas such as education and public health. These complex policies often balanced contradictory government impulses towards both the expansion of Dutch political control through the whole of the Indonesian archipelago and towards greater levels of Indonesian self-rule. Professors at the University of Leiden, such as scholar of Islam, Dr. Snouck Hurgronje, helped to formulate many of these changes and often came in conflict with members of the colonial administration, who wished to maintain or increase policies of direct control in the archipelago. My paper focuses on the influence of these scholars from the University of Leiden on the educational and cultural policies formulated during this period. These cultural policies proposed a mix of Western education and Indonesian cultural preservation that differed from assimilative policies in other colonies in Southeast Asia, such as in British Malaya. My paper specifically discusses the work of administrators, such as Director of Native Education G.A.J. Hazeu, as well as the public reaction to these laws. These educational laws were often perceived by the Dutch general public as being too benevolent and as ultimately playing a role in the rise of organized Indonesian political dissent. My paper also examines the varying rationales for the disparity in educational opportunities and social advancement between Indonesians living in urban and rural settings. Last, I will examine the growth of Dutch Structuralist colonial anthropology as it rose to prominence at the University of Leiden. I will discuss the level of direct influence this academic work had on informing further changes in the imperial administration leading up to the abandonment of the Ethical Policies in the 1930s.