This essay focuses on the political, economic, and cultural history of Indonesia. I wrote these lectures for a Stanford Travel/Study program in Indonesia in October-November 2009.
I first contrast the cultural bases, sources of wealth, and decline of four early kingdoms – Srivijaya, Sailendra, Saivite, and Majapahit – that ruled parts of Indonesia between the 7th and 16th centuries. Thereafter, I focus on Dutch rule of the East Indies – first by the Dutch East India Company (VOC, 1604-1800) and later by Dutch colonial governments (1800-1949). I discuss Dutch conquest, ruling methods, and development of exports, the rise of Indonesian nationalism, and the war for independence (1945-1949). Next I look at how democracy evolved between 1950 and 1965 and the strengths and weaknesses of Sukarno’s leadership. Lastly, I examine the underpinnings of political turmoil and the keys to economic success under Suharto’s dictatorship (1965-1998) and under elected presidents since 1998. I append a time line, a bibliography, and a description of sites that I visited in Indonesia.Bali and Beyond, Aboard the Orion, Krakatau, West Java, Borobudur, Central Java, Prambanan, Central Java, Sumbawa, West Nusa Tenggarah, Sumba, East Nusa Tenggarah, Komodo, East Nusa Tenggarah, Rinca, and Padar, Ship-based, Aboard the Clipper Odyssey, Mapia Atoll, West Papua, Ubud, Yenwaupnor, Waigeo Island, Raja Empat Islands, Weisei, Kokas, Andamata, Bintuni Bay, Fakfak Kabupaten, West Papua, Agats, West Papua, Ewer, Asmat Kabupaten, West Papua, Owus,