Some Notes on Java and its Administration by the Dutch


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by Henry Scott Boys
Late Bengal Civil ServiceAllahabad: Pioneer Press, 1892


by Dr. Ann Kumar, Faculty of Asian Studies, ANU

This modestly titled work by a former member of the Bengal Civil Service is in fact more like a well-researched essay than a miscellaneous collection of notes. It pays considerable attention to Java's history, though its coverage is rather patchy by modern standards, and many names are mis-spelled. It has a few interesting insights on the situation at the time of the author's visit (1889), such as the prosperous appearance of the Javanese, especially the children, the domination of trade by women, and the absence of any sign of Islam. But its main interest is the author's favourable opinion of the economic management of Java by the Dutch, as compared with the British in India. He particularly commends the Dutch refusal to introduce individual property rights to land. He does predict however (correctly) that the growth of Java's population will lead to economic problems in the future. He is also unusual among British colonial administrators of the 19th century in suggesting that the Western way of doing things is not invariably the best one.


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