Commodities and Colonialism: The Story of Big Sugar in by G. Roger Knight

By G. Roger Knight

Sugar the day gone by was once what oil is this present day: a commodity of titanic international significance whose tentacles reached deep into politics, society and economic system. Indonesia’s colonial-era sugar is essentially forgotten this present day, other than via a small variety of neighborhood experts writing for a expert viewers. in the course of the interval 1880-1942 lined by way of this e-book, besides the fact that, the then Netherlands Indies used to be one of many world’s very maximum producer-exporters of the commodity. the way it contrived to take action is the tale awarded during this book.
Author G. Roger Knight, affiliate professor of historical past within the college of Adelaide, has researched the historical past of Indonesia’s sugar for greater than twenty-five years, utilizing unpublished archival resources in either the Netherlands and Indonesia. His seek has taken him into executive documents, kinfolk histories and – exceptionally – the huge surviving papers of the Dutch sugar businesses who operated in Indonesia through the overdue colonial period. the result's an image of the that gives very important new insights into its historical past and its position within the framework of world commodity construction over a interval extending over 3 quarters of a century.

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Commodities and Colonialism: The Story of Big Sugar in Indonesia, 1880-1942

Sugar the previous day was once what oil is at the present time: a commodity of gigantic worldwide significance whose tentacles reached deep into politics, society and financial system. Indonesia’s colonial-era sugar is essentially forgotten at the present time, other than through a small variety of neighborhood experts writing for a consultant viewers. throughout the interval 1880-1942 lined via this ebook, even if, the then Netherlands Indies was once one of many world’s very maximum producer-exporters of the commodity.

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65 The situation was, of course, too good to last. 66 The prediction proved to be correct. Once re-investment and preferential duties in the United States got Cuba’s industry re-started after 1900, Java’s temporary advantage evaporated. By 1908, Cuba was again out-producing the Dutch colony and a combination of discriminatory tariffs and competition from beet sugar meant that by the eve of the First World War, Java had been largely excluded from markets throughout the West – and not just those in Europe.

It was then, in 1884 (rather than in 1903), that the foundations for the industry’s late colonial trajectory were laid, however improbable this may have seemed at the time. 9 To be sure, Java experienced a 44 per cent increase in output in the immediate post-Brussels seasons of 1903-1904 to 1909-1910. 10 As we shall see in a subsequent chapter, when the Java industry was next hit by a dramatic crisis – in 1931 – it was in effect the result of its exclusion from the Asian markets (above all, in East Asia and the Indian subcontinent) on which it had come to rely almost exclusively.

03, inv. nr. 10. 68 Wellenstein (1932:18) refers to some kind of factory white having been manufactured at the Kadipaten and Djatiwangi sugar factories in Cirebon Residency, West Java, sometime in the 1890s, and bought by Indies-Chinese dealers who sold it in both Java and the ‘Outer Islands’. Some confirmation of this comes from the Kadipaten factory’s own surviving archive, where there is a specific reference (1894) to the making of ‘Witte Suiker’ [White Sugar] there, in the context of the hope that other sugar factories will not follow suit.

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