This study traces the history of West Timor from the beginning of the twentieth century up until the late 1960s. Despite a Dutch presence in West Timor from the seventeenth century the area was only brought under comprehensive Dutch control in the early twentieth century. During the Second World War West Timor was occupied by the Japanese and after the war it became a part of the Dutch ‘puppet state’ of Negara Indonesia Timur. Since 1950 West Timor has been a part of the Republic of Indonesia. The history of the area is examined up until the end of the rule of Indonesia’s first president, Soekarno, in 1966. One of the recurring themes of the study is the role played by the power holders in the indigenous political system, which is closely allied to the indigenous animist religion. The central thesis is that the various groups from outside the Timor region who have exercised power there during the period covered by this study - the Dutch, the Japanese and non-Timorese Indonesians - have all had to accommodate the local system. The old power holders adapted themselves to the situation and continued to play a role in the new system also. The local rulers, who used various titles, were generally referred to by the Dutch as ‘rajas’. The Dutch largely utilised a system of indirect rule and from their earliest days in Timor they made contracts and agreements with local rajas and relied on their support to maintain their authority in the area. Over the years the rajas’ powers were gradually whittled back. Towards the end of the period of this study their kingdoms were formally abolished. In the meantime there was increased political awareness among Timorese who did not belong to the traditional power groups. The availability of formal education and the ever-growing influence of the Christian religion provided opportunities for new players who could challenge the authority of the traditional leaders. Nevertheless, despite the many changes, the rajas and other power holders in the indigenous political and religious systems in West Timor have remained a force to be reckoned with.
|Date of Award||2004|
|Supervisor||Christine Doran (Supervisor)|