The Phantom World of Digul: Policing as Politics in Colonial Indonesia, 1926-1941

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Just published!

by Takashi Shiraishi

Digul was an internment colony for political prisoners established in 1926, upriver in West Papua. It is the key to understanding Indonesia’s colonial rule between the failed communist rebellion of late 1926 and the fall of the Indies to the Japanese in 1942, a time when the Dutch regime attempted to impose “rust en orde”, peace and order, on the Indonesian people via the suppression of politics by the police. The political policing regime the Dutch Indies state created was both a success and a failure. The native terrain was never completely pacified. Activists linked up with each other in fluid networks that cut across spatial and ideational boundaries. 

How did the government deploy political policing to achieve its policy objectives? What were the consequences and challenges for Indonesian activists? How was the government able to fashion its policing apparatus as the most potent instrument to achieve peace and order when the Great Depression hit the Indies, nationalist and communist forces were gaining strength in other places of the world and war was coming both in Europe and Asia? This long-awaited sequel to the author's acclaimed An Age in Motion: Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912-1926, attempts to answer these questions.


“A life-long project comes to its magnificent culmination with Shiraishi’s new book, a worthy sequel to his Age in Motion.” - Rudolf Mrázek, author of Engineers of Happy Land.


Takashi Shiraishi has taught at Tokyo University, Cornell University, Kyoto University, and the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS). In 2007, he was awarded the Japanese Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon for his contributions to academic developments and accomplishments. He currently serves as Chancellor at the Prefectural University of Kumamoto.

Publication Year: 2021
372 pp || 229 x 152 mm
9 b/w images
ISBN: 978-981-325-141-0
Kyoto CSEAS Series on Asian Studies

NUS Press & Kyoto University Press