Arief W. Djati | Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University

Arief W. Djati

Arief W. Djati
Research Departments・Position
Political & Economic Coexistence
Visiting Research Scholar
Indonesia, Identities, Ethnicity, Class and Colonialism
Research Interests / Keywords
Peranakan Chinese, Nationalism and Colonialism

Arief W. Djati

Colonial Cosmopolitanism: Writing a biography of Kwee Thiam Tjing

Kwee Thiam Tjing, one of Indonesia’s great writers, wrote in Chinese Peranakan newspapers during the Dutch colonial period. He also wrote Indonesia Dalem Api dan Bara (Indonesia in Flames and Embers, 1947), the only book published while he was still alive. The book describes conditions in Java during the Dutch era, the Japanese occupation, and Indonesian independence with an original style that is funny, sad, and thrilling. Kwee Thiam Tjing used several pseudonyms, including his most well-known, Tjamboek Berdoeri. He may have been forgotten if not for the late Professor Benedict Anderson, who re-explored traces of the author and journalist, discovering more of his works.

My research is to continue writing the biography of Kwee Thiam Tjing that was initiated by Ben Anderson. This biography is important for several reasons. First, it will provide an overview of the dynamics of the world of journalism and publishing during the final period of the Dutch East Indies colonial government. Secondly, it will examine the connections between Indonesian nationalists and Chinese Peranakans in the period before and after the failed PKI rebellion of 1926. Third, the biography will trace the origins of the emergence of pro-Indonesian political choices among Peranakan Chinese. Through the story of Kwee Thiam Tjing, we can learn more of the cosmopolitan world he lived in and developed among journalists and Chinese—a cosmopolitanism that disappeared during the period of Indonesian independence.