Devi Riskianingrum - Fear and Furiousness: The Chinese and Crime in The Ommelanden of Batavia1780-1795


The Ommelanden of Batavia was in the midst of increasing criminality in the late 18th century. The crisis of the sugar industry in the 1730s, the effects of the Chinese massacre in 1740 on the Batavian economy, the declining health of Batavia’s population owing to recurrent epidemics, followed by the involvement of the Dutch in the fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), and the declining power of the Company in the Indonesian archipelago, resulted not only in falling profits, but also financial difficulties and mounting debt. All of these problems were reflected in the colonial administration’s weakening control over the Ommelanden of Batavia. Beginning with the decline in the demand for labor which contributed to unrest in the Ommelanden, crime became a common occurrence in society ranging from murder, robbery and theft to internecine fighting among the different ethnicities. The increase in criminality in the Ommelanden of Batavia affected the Chinese as a part of the society, either as perpetrators or as victims. Their superior financial status was the source of envy among other ethnicities and thus, they became vulnerable to crime. This study aims to explore criminal cases in Batavia and the Ommelanden as recorded in the Schepenbank archives involving the participation of the Chinese either as perpetrators or as victims. This study, in this way, provides some insight into the functioning of the colonial legal system vis-à-vis the Chinese community and their relations in turn with other ethnic groups in the Ommelanden on the basis of the law cases.   

Devi has graduated for her MA degree in 2009.

Last Modified: 13-01-2012