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Orientalist or Master Spy: Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and Dutch Rule in Indonesia
Peter Hamburger
Monday 17 March 2008
5.30 pm
Conference Room, free

In colonial Indonesia in 1911, the orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje proposed a shift in the Dutch ideal from ‘peace and order’ to ‘order and progress’. He failed to overturn the colonial preference for stability, leaving weaknesses in the colonial political system that have implications to the present day. Today, Snouck Hurgronje is better remembered for crossing boundaries in his official and personal life than for his failure to reform a colonial government. He combined seminal scholarship with intelligence-gathering and counter-insurgency warfare, advised on colonial policy towards Islam while secretly a practising Muslim, and held high official positions as a westerner while living privately as an oriental. This presentation, based on the National Library’s Indonesian collection, uses Snouck Hurgronje’s contradictory life to examine reform tendencies within the colonial government in Indonesia and some enduring consequences. Peter Hamburger is a Canberra-based researcher who specialises in the structures and processes of bureaucracy. He formerly headed the Australian Cabinet Secretariat.