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Open Access Betting on the Rajas (1930s)

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Betting on the Rajas (1930s)

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Chapter Summary

This chapter reconstructs the contrasting situation in the tiny town of Kupang. The beginnings of a civil society are becoming visible amid the boredom of life in a small colonial settlement. The chapter asserts that Middle Indonesia lies truly in the middle. Timor lies in the driest region of Indonesia. A Dutch diplomat had claimed in 1756 there were 27 rajas in Wehali alone, in the interior of Timor. In 1917 the Dutch had simplified their total number to 84 in all of Dutch-held Timor by means of forced amalgamation, and by 1938 to 48. Despite constantly manipulating the rajas, they maintained the fiction of traditional 'selfrule'. To compensate for the absence of a single raja in the immediate vicinity of the town, they created the Kingdom of Kupang and placed the compliant Nicolaas Nisnoni on the throne in 1919.

Keywords: civil society; colonial settlement; Dutch diplomat; Kupang; Middle Indonesia; Nicolaas Nisnoni; rajas; Timor; Wehali



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