Java's Last Frontier; The Struggle for Hegemony of Blambangan, 1763-1813
Graduation: Leiden University, Faculty of Arts, 13 December 2007.
Promotors: Prof. Dr. J.L. Blussé van Oud-Alblas and Prof. Dr. P. Boomgaard.
"Java's Oosthoek" or Java's Eastern Salient was the term used by the Dutch for the area from Pasuruan eastwards. Before it ceded to the VOC in 11 November 1743, this area was regarded as "no man's land", contested by Mataram, Balinese, Chinese Makassarese refugees and the Dutch. In the late of 18th century, the English played a role here as well. After occupied for almost a century, the Sunan of Mataram ceded it to the VOC but the area resisted the Dutch rule for longer and at greater cost than any other part of Java.
Politically, Java's Oosthoek was divided into three political alliances; Pasuruan and Probolinggo under the influence of VOC, Malang and Lumajang occupied by the descendants of Surapati, and the kingdom of Blambangan under the sway of the Balinese kingdom of Mengwi. These last two groups were strongly opposed to the VOC. The land was finally pacified after seven years on war.
The lack of population and the strong distrust to the indigenous rulers as the outcome of widespread resistance had encouraged the Dutch to farm out the newly conquered frontier to the rich Chinese entrepreneurs and installed them as local rulers. Thus, the Oosthoek Chinese played a pivotal role in the commercialization of this area, even more then elsewhere. At the same time, this political process had paved the way for a fundamental change of cultural life. The Dutch scheme of alienating the Balinese power and local consciousness of creating political alliance with Islamized region in the western part of Oosthoek had encouraged a religious transformation, from Hindus to become Islamic society.
This study examines how Java's Oosthoek came to be transformed from being a wilderness harbouring rebels, rough elements and dissenters to a frontier of economic and colonial state formation by the turning century. This process of transformation involved political as well as socio-economic and cultural change. The involvement of the VOC in Java's internal political affairs played a crucial role in transforming the Oosthoek, but it should not be overlooked that endogenous factors that provided the impetus to the changes. Therefore a careful scrutiny of both Dutch and Javanese sources is essential to reconstruct a detailed and intriguing account of what was happening in Java's Oosthoek finally came to be well integrated into the colonial state. The study covered the period 1764-1800, a period which was considered as the decline the VOC's economic achievement but at the same time was the culmination of its territorial expansion in Indonesian archipelago.
Prof. Dr. Peter Boomgaard
Prof. Dr. Djoko Suryo