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Monarchy and visual culture in colonial Indonesia

Photographic subjects examines photography at royal celebrations during the reigns of Wilhelmina (1898–1948) and Juliana (1948–80), a period spanning the zenith and fall of Dutch rule in Indonesia. It is the first monograph in English on the Dutch monarchy and the Netherlands’ modern empire in the age of mass and amateur photography.

This book reveals how Europeans and Indigenous people used photographs taken at Queen’s Day celebrations to indicate the ritual uses of portraits of Wilhelmina and Juliana in the colonies. Such photographs were also objects of exchange across imperial networks. Photograph albums were sent as gifts by Indigenous royals in ‘snapshot diplomacy’ with the Dutch monarchy. Ordinary Indonesians sent photographs to Dutch royals in a bid for recognition and subjecthood. Professional and amateur photographers associated the Dutch queens with colonial modernity and with modes of governing difference across an empire of discontiguous territory and ethnically diverse people. The gendered and racial dimensions of Wilhelmina’s and Juliana’s engagement with their subjects emerge uniquely in photographs, which show these two women as female kings who related to their Dutch and Indigenous subjects in different visual registers.

Photographic subjects advances methods in the use of photographs for social and cultural history, reveals the entanglement of Dutch and Indonesian histories in the twentieth century, and provides a new interpretation of Wilhelmina and Juliana as imperial monarchs. The book is essential for scholars and students of colonial history, South-east Asian and Indonesian studies, and photography and visual studies.

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Photographic encounters between Dutch and Indonesian royals

Cosmos sitting on his medals, Pemberton deemed the act ‘quite plausible as an early twentieth century response to His Majesty's shrinking cosmos’. 2 He alludes here to the progressive Dutch incursion upon Central Javanese kings’ powers in the Princely States ( vorstenlanden ), which I described in Chapter 2. What we do know from photographs is that, throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Pakubuwono X sent many portraits of himself to Queen Wilhelmina and the Crown Princess Juliana that substantiate his

in Photographic subjects
The Dutch colonial world during Queen Wilhelmina’s reign, 1898–1948

Between 31 August and 6 September 1923, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands marked her silver jubilee, the 25th anniversary of her inauguration. The week-long festivities united disparate populations across the globe, not just in the Netherlands but throughout its empire, which included Suriname and the West Indies in the Atlantic realm, and the East Indies in South-east Asia. The milestone also resonated across the Indian Ocean in places that had not been part of the Dutch colonial world for over a century, including Cape Town in southern

in Photographic subjects
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Royal Indonesian visits to the Dutch court in the early twentieth century

. It was given in honour of Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands’ engagement to a German nobleman, Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biestefeld. In this most unusual live recital, radio dramatically bridged the distance between the Netherlands and its oldest and most important overseas possession, the jewel in the modern Dutch empire. Juliana and her mother, Queen Wilhelmina (1880–1962), were so taken with the spectacle that they

in Royals on tour
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Portraits of the monarch in colonial ritual

In 1923 Queen Wilhelmina's brother-in-law, Adolf Friedrich von Mecklenburg (1873–1969), toured the Moluccas and Dutch New Guinea. It was the year of Wilhelmina's silver jubilee, and for the twenty-fifth year since her coronation, she was not touring her empire. In her absence, ‘ Hertog (Duke) Adolf’, as he became known on his travels, accrued celebrity status in the Netherlands Indies. 1 That he was German nobility and only related to the queen by her marriage to Hendrik made no difference

in Photographic subjects
Salutations from a Dutch queen’s supporters in a British South Africa

In 1909, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands received a spectacular letter from the Women’s Committee of the Netherlanders of Johannesburg in Transvaal, then a British colony. It was an oorkonde , a formal salutation handwritten in calligraphic script and richly illustrated with symbols of the Netherlands’ Royal House of Orange: a coat of arms, the Dutch tricolour crossed

in Crowns and colonies
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Lights, camera and … ‘Ethical’ rule!

On the last night of the festival week for Queen Wilhelmina's silver jubilee in 1923, Max Foltynski and his wife, Petronella, joined the crowd of spectators who turned out to admire the electric lights that decorated many of the major buildings in Bandung, the large city in West Java where they lived. One of them took a photograph of the illuminated Bandung Residency, the house occupied by the most senior Dutch administrator in the city ( figure 4.1 ). Someone also photographed Bandung's new Technical College, completed only three years before

in Photographic subjects
Indonesian perceptions of power relationships with the Dutch

sheath embossed with peacock motifs, coloured with green enamel and set with diamonds, presented by Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII of Yogyakarta to Queen Wilhelmina. 20 This latter gift of a ceremonial dagger, which represented a male sovereign, was presented to a female ruler in the Netherlands to mark the silver jubilee of her reign in 1923. The choice of gift suggests a concept of the relationship between

in Crowns and colonies
‘Nederland voor de Nederlanders!’

). The ‘Besluit Ontbinding Landverraderlijke Organisaties’ (Resolution concerning the Dissolution of Treasonable Organisations), which was signed by Queen Wilhelmina in London on 17 September 1944, led to the ban on the NSB and some thirty other (National Socialist) organisations (Van Donselaar 1993: 88). The decree was also supposed to keep the country free from the extreme right by explicitly stating that future organisations which sought to promote the goals of the banned organisations would also be banned (Bank 1998). Attempts to build extreme right groups were not

in The ideology of the extreme right
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Mass photography, monarchy and the making of colonial subjects

were celebrated in the Netherlands and its colonies, the East Indies, West Indies, Suriname, as well as places where Dutch imperial claims were located in a more distant past, such as South Africa. 4 Photographs taken by ordinary spectators and participants at royal celebrations became a standard feature of East Indies family albums from about 1923, the year of Queen Wilhelmina's silver jubilee, until the end of Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia (excepting the significant interlude of the Japanese occupation from 1942

in Photographic subjects