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Religious politics and the islam in the Dutch East Indies, 1816-1942

In around 1800 the majority of inhabitants of the Indonesian Archipelago were Islamic. The early nineteenth century witnessed the advent of a more orthodox interpretation of Islam. In the course of the same century, regular Christian church communities became more active, which habitually led to friction between Christianity and Islam and also between Christians among themselves. Islam formed a source of inspiration for resistance to foreign rule. The Dutch colonizer embraced the principle of separation between church and state and wished to remain neutral in religious affairs. The pursuit of order and social harmony was certainly just as important.

From 1871 onward, the Governor-General had at his disposal an advisor on home affairs. Between 1889 and 1905, this was the Arabist and Islam expert Dr C. Snouck Hurgronje, on whose advice the Dutch policy was to obstruct Muslims as little as possible in the practice of their religious duties, but to counteract all political expressions of Islam.*

This research focuses on the decisions of the Governor-General, the mail reports he sent to the Minister of Colonies, the governmental legislation, and the dossiers (legal statements) compiled by the Ministry. Research is also being performed in the Indonesian National Archives in Jakarta and in private archives, including the Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (Royal Institute for Southeast Asia and Caribbean Studies) in Leiden and the University Library of Leiden.