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Indonesia Table of Contents



National consciousness emerged gradually in the archipelago during the first decades of the twentieth century, developed rapidly during the contentious 1930s, and flourished, both ideologically and institutionally, during the tumultuous Japanese occupation in the early 1940s, which shattered Dutch colonial authority. As in other parts of colonial Southeast Asia, nationalism was preceded by traditional-style rural resistance. The Java War, joining discontented elites and peasants, was a precursor. Around 1900 the followers of Surantika Samin, a rural messiah who espoused his own religion, the Science of the Prophet Adam, organized passive resistance on Java that included refusal to pay taxes or perform labor service. Militant Islam was another focus of traditional resistance, especially in Sumatra.

Indonesian nationalism reflected trends in other parts of Asia and Europe. Pilgrims and students returning from the Middle East brought modernist Islamic ideas that attempted to adapt the faith to changing times. Other influences included the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885; the Philippine struggle for independence against both Spain and the United States in 1898-1902; Japan's victory over tsarist Russia in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), a major challenge to the myth of white European supremacy; and the success of Kemal Ataturk in creating a modern, secularized Turkey after World War I on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The Russian Revolution of 1917 also had a profound impact, reflected in the growth of a strong communist movement by the late 1920s. National consciousness was not homogeneous but reflected the diversity of Indonesian society. Dutch repression and the shock of war from 1942 to 1945, however, forged diverse groups into something resembling a unified whole.

Data as of November 1992