Minorities, Modernity, and the Emerging Nation: Christians in Indonesia, a Biographical Approach

Article excerpt

Minorities, Modernity, and the Emerging Nation: Christians in Indonesia, a Biographical Approach. By Gerry Van Klinken. Leiden: KITLVPress, 2003. Pp. 300. Paperback euro35.

This study of political and social change in what is now Indonesia in the first half of the twentieth century focuses on the lives of five men who were significant Christian political leaders. Each began his life in traditional Batak, Javanese, or Minahasan communities, and each moved out from his community to join an emerging middle class as a Christian political minority leader.

Van Klinken's analysis focuses not on the struggle between colonial powers and the metropolitan Indies but on the tensions among Indonesian groups as they confronted the dreams and dilemmas of modernity. Amir Sjarifoeddin and Soegijapranata proposed nationalism as the road to Christian influence in the emerging nation. Kasimo and Goenoeng Moelia took a secularized approach to politics, negotiating compromises among interest groups and institutions. Ratu Langie built cohesiveness among constituencies along regional and ethnic lines.

Van Klinken's study is significant for four reasons. First, he augments the paucity of study on Indonesian Christians, highlighting both their influence and their status as a relatively small minority. …

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