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Book presentation | Expelled from Java [Verbannen van Java] | Margreet van Till

June 13 @ 15:30 - 17:00

During the so-called Cultuurstelsel (1830-1870), the state apparatus of the former Dutch Indies used banishment and exile to discipline its subjects. Not only persons who criticised the system of forced labour but also individuals who showed deviant, extravagant behaviour were removed from Java. Javanese farmers who were unwilling to fulfil their duties in the vast labour force of the Cultuurstelsel were transferred to places outside of Java.

Critical Europeans could be transported back to the Netherlands, cases that received due publicity. If European, Eurasian or Javanese civil officers transgressed outside the boundaries of government policy, they could be expelled or reposted to ‘frontier’ islands outside Java. This measure was considered to be punitive. But the Javanese farmers were particularly hurt if they were punished for undesirable behaviour, because they could be banished to the Moluccas, or in less severe cases to another area of Java, far away from their former social environment. They were put into forced labour, for example on the plantations on Banda.

The Cultuurstelsel has been debated by historians in connection to its economic impact. But the system also required an enormous growth of the state bureaucracy in the former Dutch Indies to get it working. Consequently, the government penetrated deeply into the everyday life of its subjects. In her book Verbannen van Java. Koloniale tragedies (1830-1860), Margreet van Till wants to highlight this unknown side of the Cultuurstelsel and its impact on the daily lives of the inhabitants of Java.

Author & speaker

Margreet van Till was trained as a historian at the University of Groningen. She obtained her PhD at the University of Amsterdam. Since then, she has lectured at both universities. Margreet has lived for eight years in Jakarta and spent many an hour in the Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia. This resulted in the book Verbannen van Java: Koloniale tragedies 1830-1860 [Expelled from Java].


Philip Post studied History and Political Science at the University of Nijmegen. Currently, he is lecturing at the University of Utrecht, and working on his PhD project: ‘The return of the company? Continuity and change in Dutch colonial politics in Ambon and Ternate, c. 1750-1870’. Forthcoming 2024.


David Kloos is a senior researcher at KITLV. He is interested in religion, gender, violence, colonialism, knowledge formation, visual methods, and the social and political aspects of climate change.

Format, date, time & venue

This seminar is a hybrid event and will be held in the new conference room of KITLV, Herta Mohr building, room 1.30, Witte Singel 27 A, Leiden and online via Zoom, on Thursday 13 June from 15.30 – 17.00 PM (CET).


If you want to join this book presentation on location, please register via: [email protected].

If you wish to join this book presentation online, please register here.


Book cover Verbannen van Java.


Walburg Pers


June 13
15:30 - 17:00
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KITLV conference room, Herta Mohr building
Witte Singel 27 A
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