1st Session Paper Presentation
Fourth TANAP Conference in Yogyakarta, Indonesia
During the first session of paper presentations (see the programme survey), several Indonesian scholars commented on the papers written by Nirmal R. Dewasiri, Muridan Widjojo, CH'UI, Hsin-hui, Sri Margana and KWEE Hui Kian. I Ketut Ardhana asked Mr. Dewasiri in how far "cast" and "casta" (being western constructs) existed in pre-colonial Sri Lanka, how family linkages looked like. Dewasiri tries to establish the social groups on the island, and to determine who's included and who not in the 18th-century cinnamon regions of coastal Sri Lanka. "We do not know how they were represented in pre-colonial times", he responded. Our knowledge on 'caste' mainly derives from the 19th century, it's a colonial contruction.
Muhamad Ali and Langgeng Sulistyo Budi from Arsip Nasional RI asked Muridan Widjojo what the benefits were of the local Malukan trading network in eastern Indonesian in the late-18th century, and how crucial the role of the English was in developing that network. They found the paper important for the colonial discourse, as it pointed at so many policies, conflicting interests, and divisions within indigenous society. The scheme was not black and white, not always colonizers versus colonized. Ms. Mona Lohanda from Arsip Nasional suggested Mr. Widjojo to develop a model, including local sources and local traditions. Prof. F.S. Gaastra remarked that Widjojo's paper suggests that the spice monopoly in Maluku ended earlier then the 19th century, as is commonly understood by historians.