Nationalists, soldiers and separatists: The Ambonese islands from colonialism to revolt 1880-1950

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On 25 April 1950 the Republic of the South Moluccas was proclaimed in Ambon Town. Not until December, after a breakdown in negotiations and a protracted battle, did the Indonesian army take control of Ambon Island. In remote parts of inhospitable Ceram, RMS remnants held out until 1962. This book examines the revolt of the Republic of the South Moluccas in the context of the social and economic changes experienced in Ambonese society during the last century of colonial rule. The author focuses on the emergence of a new group of Christian _migr_s – officials, teachers and soldiers – who left their homeland in the service of the Netherlands Indies government, and the dilemma posed for this group by Indonesian nationalism. The upheavals of the Japanese occupation and the Indonesian struggle for independence left Ambon with embryonic democratic institutions, dominated by Ambonese supporters of the Indonesian Republic. The Republic of the South Moluccas was an attempt by some returned _migr_s – soldiers and civilians – together with members of the traditional village _lite, to (re)establish their authority and preserve their society’s independence from the Jakarta government. Chauvel concludes that the proclamation of an independent state, devoid of any forethought or planning, proved a tragedy for the society it was meant to protect. Nationalists, soldiers and separatists is the first work to give such a detailed review of the political developments of Ambon and the Ambonese. It is based on extensive research in government archives in Indonesia, the Netherlands and Australia and on interviews in these three countries with participants from all sides involved. Richard Chauvel (1946) studied history and politics at the Universities of Sydney and London. In 1985 he was awarded a Ph.D. at the University of Sydney on the basis of this dissertation. Since 1987 he has been a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, Jakarta.

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