Violence Begets Violence: Anticolonial Mobilisation of Ressentiment in 19th Century Borneo
The sudden and violent uprising marking the start of the “Banjarmasin War” in south-central Borneo in 1859 caught the German Rhenish Mission Society (RMS) by surprise. A well-coordinated attack by indigenous Dayaks and prominent Muslim figures led to the brutal massacre of nine people associated with the RMS. In a matter of days, the mission work of 23 years was destroyed. In all, violence was directed at Dutch colonial forces, German missionaries, and Christian Dayaks alike. The coastal city of Banjarmasin, seat of Dutch imperialism, became the last refuge for survivors. Some blamed the RMS for the uprising, arguing that the conversion zeal of the missionaries had provoked an anti-Christian jihad. The RMS retorted that Muslims, conspiring to overthrow the Dutch, had incited indigenous Dayaks to what amounted to an anti-imperialist uprising. Recently, scholars have argued that the interference of Dutch imperialism in local politics was to blame for the uprising, and that the Dayaks were unable to distinguish between Dutch and German foreigners. This paper examines the contribution of Dutch colonial policy to the uprising, particularly its restriction of Islamic religious practices, as well as forms of cooperation between the Dutch and the RMS. Primary sources provide evidence of prolonged and severe RMS brutality against Dayaks in the decade before the war. This leads to the conclusion that the initial violence of the Banjarmasin War directed at RMS persons was no coincidence. Sufficient warrant exists to argue that this was not a matter of mistaken identity, but of reasoned calculation.
Copyright (c) 2019 Karl E Böhmer
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).