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Missionary Albert Kruyt and Colonial Modernity in the Dutch East Indies1

  • Joost Coté

Intense debates emerged in the Dutch East Indies during the course of the third decade of the twentieth century concerning the role of missionaries in the development of the Outer Islands of the Indonesian archipelago. Ostensibly concerning “native welfare”, disagreement fundamentally reflected underlying fractures within the Dutch nation, projected through its “colonial mission” concerning the nature of modernity. While the main focus appeared to be a disagreement concerning the goals of mission and government agencies, it would be too simplistic to characterise the debate as one between adherents of a secular versus a religious world view. This paper considers the question of “missions and modernity” in the context of this debate about “native development” in the Dutch East Indies through the prism of the Poso mission in Central Sulawesi, headed by missionary Albert Kruyt, one of the foremost missionaries of his day.

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1 I would like to thank Roy Jordaan and Han Vermeulen for providing information and two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.

* Joost Coté teaches Southeast Asian history at Deakin University and researches colonial cultures in colonial Indonesia. Recent publications include Realizing the dream of R.A. Kartini: Her sisters' letters from colonial Java (Ohio 2008) and Colonising Poso: The diary of E Gobée 1909-1910 (Monash Asia Institute, 2007). His e-mail address is

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  • ISSN: 0165-1153
  • EISSN: 2041-2827
  • URL: /core/journals/itinerario
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