The PhD-project Indigenous girlhoods and education in the Netherlands Indies, c. 1880-1940 proposes a new approach to Indonesian girls’ education under Dutch colonialism. Rather than on official educational policy, the focus in this project is on day-to-day experiences in the context of girls’ schools. A wide variety of schools – ranging from Christian to nationalist and Muslim – from four different regions in the archipelago is placed in a comparative framework. The research asks how an analysis of educational practice can contribute to a new understanding of civilizing missions in colonial Indonesia.
This presentation focuses on the role of affective relations in girls’ schools. Based on both published and archival source material, a lively image of school friendships and teenage love affairs appears. These examples show that girls’ emotions were conceived of by their teachers as both useful tools for, and dangerous impediments to moral reform. Importantly, the presentation also highlights some instances of Indonesian girls’ individual experiences and reactions. Taken together, these examples demonstrate how a focus on daily school life opens up new possibilities for a rethinking of civilizing missions.
Kirsten Kamphuis is a PhD candidate in history at the European University Institute in Florence. She holds a ResMA in Global and Colonial History from Leiden University (2015). She will be an affiliated fellow at the KITLV from February through April 2018.
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