Java as a Western construct: an examination of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles' "The History of Java"
Master of Arts (MA)
Among nineteenth-century books on Indonesia published in England, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles’ "The History of Java" holds a unique position. While serving as Lieutenant Governor in Indonesia, Raffles went to great length in documenting the island’s history, culture, architecture and contemporary civilization. His observations were published in a two-volume study entitled "The History of Java," whose most outstanding feature is the sixty-six engravings it includes. Ten of these engravings are colored aquatints by William Daniell, illustrating Javanese life and costume. Published in 1817, Raffles’ "History of Java" is considered, to the present day, a highly important work, particularly because of its perceived accuracy in documenting Javanese costume and ethnography at the turn of the nineteenth century. This thesis questions Raffles’ claim to accuracy based on arguments derived from the critical debate over Orientalism triggered by the publication of Edward Said’s namesake book in 1978. While Raffles and Daniell purport to represent the people of Java as products of Javanese civilization, there is a clearly defined colonialist agenda looming behind the plates inserted in the "History of Java."
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Mault, Natalie A., "Java as a Western construct: an examination of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles' "The History of Java"" (2005). LSU Master's Theses. 3006.
Darius A. Spieth