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The Javanese diaspora


Admission requirements

In this research seminar, students will work with publications from the 19th and 20th century at KITLV library in Leiden and will be initiated in archival research at the National Archives. No previous experience with 19th-c. publications or archives is requisite, but a good passive command of the Dutch language is absolutely indispensable.


The 19th century saw a global movement of commodities and people, and of the capital required to accomplish this. The industrial revolution transformed economic structures and social relations within the countries where the process was taking place, as well as the momentum of global migration. Two enormous streams of international migration can be distinguished: 50 million people leaving Europe for modernizing areas in temperate climate zones and another 50 million leaving East and South Asia to toil in the tropics producing food and raw materials. This international and racial division of labour took place within the framework of expanding European and later American empires. Not only the migration waves themselves had distinct ethnic and racial profiles, the ethnic communities that settled in the host countries experienced racism. The migrants were very often seen as intruders taking jobs, weakening the bargaining position of local workers and thus lowering wages.
This seminar focuses on Javanese migration to plantations in the Dutch Caribbean colony of Suriname as well as to other islands in the Netherlands East Indies: increasing colonial occupation and intervention had transformed regional economies, pushing people out, but also creating new places of production. A case in point are the rubber plantations in Deli, Sumatra.
Topics to be discussed in this seminar include the political debate about indentured immigration, recruitment and transportation, living and working conditions of plantation workers, and the role of culture, education, religion and politics in the identity formation of Javanese communities outside Java.

Course objectives

  • Concepts of 19th-c migration movements and empire building

  • Historical knowledge of the state of the art

  • Critical insights into the literature

  • Use of primary cources to build historical case studies

  • Conduct independentt research


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

One historiographical paper (appr. 2000 words); one reseach paper (appr. 5000 words)



Reading list

To be announced.


via uSis.

Contact information

With the tutor: Ms.dr. Rosemarijn Höfte


If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch