Good Tidings from the Frontiers: Politieke Verslagen en Berichten uit Buitengewesten, 1898-1940

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Abstrak Thesis Oleh: Julinta Hutagalung, MA (History Department, Leiden University)

Dutch expansion in the East-Indies around 1900 and the imperialism debate that was situated there would never have been possible without colonial knowledge and the access to information. This colonial knowledge, so to say, was the assessment of local society by the Colonial Government and this was considered as a major contribution for making and implementing colonial policies. In addition to this, colonial knowledge was actually shaped by different means and accumulating and collecting reliable information from certain people was one of them. Politieke Verslagen en Berichten uit Buitengewesten (Political Reports and Dispatches) was a means of this collection of reliable information. Replacing the dagregisters, the Politieke Verslagen en Berichten uit Buitengewesten is fascinating evidence of the means by which the colonial government sought to possess a grip over local knowledge. In creating this archive, the Colonial government brought into existence a source for policy making and an accountability tool.

Until this abstract was written no competent study has been done regarding this particular archive. Compared to other information reports such as the Verbaal and Mailrapporten, the existence of this archive is often neglected by many scholars. On the other hand, the access to this archive is not as difficult as Verbaal or Mailrapporten, since its division was based on location and year. These “Political Reports and Dispatches” concern only the Outer Provinces. Why so? The main reason for its exclusive focus on the Outer Provinces was because of territorial expansion engaged in by the Dutch at the turn of the 20th century. In this period, the area outside Java and Madura became important.

The purpose of this study is to offer a comprehensive analysis of a particular series of archive that was recognized as a distinguished administrative tool by the Colonial Bureaucracy. To this end, this study asks two big questions:
1. What exactly were the “Politieke verslagen en Berichten uit Buitengewesten”?
2. What was its role in the Colonial Bureaucracy, first in Dutch East-Indies and secondly in the Netherlands?

In view of answering the above questions, the study asks an array of secondary questions related to both the dispatching entity, the Netherlands Indies and the receiving entity, the Netherlands. With regard to the first, the study asks what kind of regulations formed the Archive and who were the people who sent these reports and how often did they do so? Also, what is the kind of information that can be found in this archive and for what purpose was this information collected? Similarly the study enquires as to who the people were who needed this information, for what purpose and what was the manner in which they handled this information?

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