Social Changes in Jogjakarta. 
By SELOSOEMARDJAN. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1962. xxvii, 440 pp. $6.75.


(reviewed by Clifford Geertz)



Jogjakarta, a thousand square mile "Special Province" in south central Java was created in 1755 through the Dutch partitioning of the last of the great classical kingdoms of Java-Mataram. Jogja became over the next two centuries both a musty conservatory of high Javanese culture and a hapless testing ground for the ingenious devices of Western commercial penetration. Its established political equilibrium severely shaken by the short but hectic Japanese occupation, it emerged after the war as one of the major centers of nationalist ferment as indeed, it had also been well before it. (The first mass nationalist party was founded there in 1912.) Between 1946 and 1949, when Djakarta and much of the rest of Java had fallen into Dutch hands, Jogjakarta city was the capital of the sorely beleaguered new Republic, finally fallmg to a combined land and air attack in the second Dutch military action. Since the gaining of Independence and the return of the capital to Djakarta it has emerged as one of the more progressive regions of the new state-a center of education, economic, political and still cultural, activity. For writing the recent history of this most especial "Special Province" no one is more qualified than Selosoemardjan. Himself a Jogjanese, he spent fifteen years as a civil servant. He took his doctorate in political science at Cornell, returning to Jogja to supplement his historical research and professional memories with a systematic field study in 1958. The result is a fine book--an outstanding contribution both to Indonesian studies and to the analysis of social change in the emerging nations.


The thread upon which Selosoemardjan hangs his story is the career and character of the present Sultan of Jogjakarta, Hamengku Buwono IX. Educated for nine years in Holland, the then Crown Prince was called home in 1939 to succeed his father as King. He soon proved to be something of a departure from the ornamental icons that had preceded him on the throne. In the last phases of the colonial period, he bargained fiercely with the Dutch for a freer hand, attempting at once to restore the power of the Sultanate and protect the interests of his people. During the Japanese period, he quietly emerged from the confines of his palace to become his own prime minister and take the actual day-to-day administration of the Principality into his own hands, an unobtrusive revolution which laid the groundwork for his later role as the only traditional political figure in Java to be a major nationalist leader. Since Independence he has continued as the chief administrative officer of J ogja being the driving force behind the unusuai number of political, economic and educational developments taking place in the area, though with the rising importance of political party leaders, most especially Communist, his ability to employ traditional sanctions to modem purposes has perhaps been somewhat curtailed. But he remains, at least for the moment at once Jogja's culture hero and her nationai leader the embodiment of her distinctive self. Selosoemardjan traces in precise detail the cultural bases, social context and political working out of his pre-eminent position. Only, in what is perhaps one of the few flaws in the book, the nature of the man himself remains somewhat vague, a little lifeless, a mere title rather than a person.


Yet the critical nature of the Sultan's role the imagination, vigor and most unorthodox style with which he has played it, and the fact that the Jogjanese polity still revolves around this half-modem, half-traditional figure is clear and Selosoemardjan traces the implications of this fact throughout all the aspects of local life: After outlining briefly the history of Jogja dunng the Dutch, Japanese and Independence periods, he discusses the present scene with respect to the administration of government political parties, peasant agriculture foreign enterprises, economic development and education, coming to the general conclusion that for all the admitted obstacles, "Jogjakarta already has set its feet on the path of social and economic progress."


In a final theoretical chapter, Selosoemardjan puts forward fifteen general hypotheses about the nature of social change based upon his Jogja study. Though some of these propositions might well be stated in reversed form even in terms of his own material, others seem at least dubious on wider comparative grounds, and one or two are simple tautologies, the whole pattern of analysis which emerges from them is both suggestive and, at points, incisive. Selosoemardjan's effort to state explicitly and systematically the theoretical conclusions to which his study has led him is a practice that might well be more widely imitated.



University of Chicago



Book Review, in: American Sociological Review, Vol. 28, No.2 (Apr., 1963), 304.


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