From Harbour Autocracies to 'Feudal' Diffusion in Seventeenth-Century Indonesia: the case of Aceh

Takeshi Ito, Anthony Reid

Abstract


In   Indonesia, as in most Asian countries, the term 'feudalism' became very   popular in the 1930s and '40s. It was part of the jargon which nationalists   accepted eagerly from Marxism, because it seemed to locate their own   societies on a linear path of inevitable progress. By making an explicit   analogy with European history, it emphasized that the royal courts and   aristocratic officials protected by the colonial order were in fact   anachronistic doomed relics of an earlier age. It helped legitimate the aspiration   of nationalists to replace not only colonialism but also the internal   hierachy based on birth by a more democratic order in which education and the   skills of mass mobilization would be adequately rewarded. At a popular level   'feudal' became simply the pejorative equivalent for 'aristocratic' or   'traditional'.

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