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15 Cultural Imperialism in Indonesia

by Tri Agustina

The Indonesian nation experienced a period of colonialism very long, ranging from colonies of Dutch, Japanese, and English. There is a much-recorded history of colonial times in various stories and literature.

Because of the length of time, they colonized the country, many things were very influential both morally and culturally. Examples of cultural imperialism in Indonesia are much affected by the colonial element at that time.

To find out what factors affect the culture of colonialism in Indonesia, the following examples, and explanations:

1. Education

The influence of education in the colonial era was felt at that time, one of education because of Dutch influence in that is the level of formal education. A common feature of the Dutch education system is the division of education by year, for example, 5-6 years of Primary School and a 3-year Advanced School. In the beginning, the Indonesian education system was based solely on pecantrikan, mandala, and pesantren. Read more about Education Curicculum in Indonesia

2. Indies Cultures

Indis culture is a culture that comes from a mixed culture between Dutch and indigenous cultures. This Indis continues to grow especially on Java Island between the 18th century until the 19th century. Indis culture consists of seven elements namely language, equipment/furniture, livelihood and economic system, community system, art, science, and religion.

3. Residential

Many examples of dwellings at that time and now are still influenced by Dutch culture such as residential houses. In the Dutch colonial era, many Dutch construction buildings were used by priyayi families. Construction of this Dutch building usually uses the land and materials are quite expensive. Characteristic of the building is large, large and high divides on the front is usually decorated with ancient Greco-Roman architecture style.

4. Religion

The colonization of the Portuguese to the Netherlands turned out to have an effect on the movement of Portuguese Catholic missionaries who were replaced by the Dutch Protestant Zending. The influence of the Portuguese Catholic is only left in Flores and Timor, while the Dutch influence in the field of religion, especially in the area of North Sumatra( batak land), Manado, Minahasa, Maluku Islands, Papua and Central and South Sulawesi. And this is still evolving to this day. Read more about Importance of Religion in Indonesia

5. Arts

Not only in the field of education, religion alone but the arts did not escape the influence and cultural heritage of the Dutch and Portuguese. One of them Portuguese relics are Keroncong, Tanjidor, and Ondel-Ondel. In Portuguese tanger means playing a musical instrument and tangedor (tanjedor) is playing a musical instrument with a string outdoors.

6. Language

The Portuguese language influences our language from everyday language to other languages. This is still very much felt today. Examples of influenced languages and cultures of imperialism in Indonesia such as violin, table (mesa), butter (mentega), cruise (passear), frame (figura), ribbon (fita)soldado, cigar (charuto) fool (tolol), window (jandela), executioner (algoz), bench (banco), cushion (avental), flag (bendera), and many more. Read more about  Reasons Why Indonesian Language is Popular

7. Community Structure

Initially, Indonesia only knew a village (or dukuh) as the smallest government structure. However, as the development of Japanese colonial rule, the structure is divided into small units called the Rukun Warga ( RT ) and Rukun Tetangga ( RT ). This system has been used in Japan under the name Tonarigumi. The reason for the establishment of RT and RW by Japan for the ease of administration and control.

Therefore, instead of being a native Indonesian village that grows naturally,  naturally, tonarigumi is used as an effort to control and mobilize Japan over the Indonesian population. Until now, RT and RW are maintained as the smallest administrative units and show their usefulness for the welfare of the coordination of the modern Indonesian state administration.

8. Military

Next cultural imperialism in Indonesia is a military effect. Directly or indirectly, Japan helps Indonesia (mainly youth) to shape the spirit of nationalism. Japan does this in three ways: (1) Youth mobilization; (2) Establishment of semi-military organizations; and (3) Formation of military organizations. Of course, these three forms are meant for the benefit of the Japanese war.

However, the side effects are beneficial to Indonesia. Youth targeted Japan because of its productive age, enterprising, full of spirit, and idealistic. Japan educates young people as younger brothers.

9. Food

The influence of cultural imperialism in Indonesia next to the food that until now still enjoyed by the whole society. Examples of foods that have experienced acculturation such as stews, cakes, lapis legit, cubit pie, croquette, klapertart, kaasstengels, soup brenebon and so forth. Just like in Indonesia, in the Netherlands also famous as street snacks, especially during the summer.

Even the materials and the way of making is relatively the same. Just a slightly different name, so it has been a long time that these foods become a popular food in our country.

10. Court System

The current system of justice in Indonesia is because we apply the judicial system with the Civil Law type of law that is the judicial system used by the Dutch colonials. Where more laws are written, judges’ decisions do not go directly into law but require long negotiations and discussions.

This is different from the Anglo Saxon law type, where the judge’s decision is more dominant, there is very little written law, the judge’s decision can be the basis of the law for the same case in the coming trial.

In view of the history and judicial acts that occurred and also how there is a similarity that is not much different from the legal system that Indonesia is running at the moment, such as the district court at the district/city level, the provincial high court and the special court at the central level, all of which are derivatives of the Dutch East Indies government.

11. Government System

Decentralization very felt by the government of the Dutch East Indies when applied the law Inlandsche Gemeenre Ordinnatie Sawa en Madoera is the law that governs the villages in Java and Madura. And Inlansche Gemeenre Ordinnatie Buitenyewestan is arranging villages that are outside Java. And in this law, it is clear that the Dutch East Indies government tried to decentralize and divide the rights and powers of its power to the indigenous people.

And this is what the Indonesian government is doing now where the law on village autonomy has been regulated more broadly through PP No 72 of 2005 and the Minister of Home Affairs No. 28, the year of 2006.

12. Political System

The political system of the Dutch government until now we feel is the practice of corruption. As if already rooted and entrenched in the body of our government. The fifth is saying the fruit falls not far from the tree, this is the culture that was passed down by our predecessors, how the dirty nature of the colonizer for hundreds of years colonize in Indonesia is firmly inherent in the bureaucrats of this nation. In addition, the VOC at that time ran a system of capitalist and liberal governments.

Where the class of investors and individuals are given the freedom widely to enrich themselves. And this is what we feel today in the political and economic practices we live in the Indonesian system of government.

Regardless of our ideology of Pancasila, and embracing the democratic system, but in practice and reality, we still uphold the value of liberal and capitalism. This can be seen when many foreign investors who freely and freely undermine the economic and natural resources of this rich, rich nation, so obvious social and economic gaps, and so on.

13. Clothing

Clothing is one of the completeness of life that must exist in every human being because it includes the primary needs. Clothing sometimes reflects one’s social status in society. For that very interesting to learn indies culture, especially in terms of dress and its influence in society, especially the society in Indonesia in the former. This is one of the cultural imperialism in Indonesia that still survives.

Another characteristic of the lifestyle of the time, which was much influenced by the European style was the fashion. The women of Indis, due to the influence of the domestic servants and the Nyai, wear sarongs and kebaya. Kebaya fabrics are also worn for everyday wear at home by European women, while men wear sarongs and takwo suits or bathing suits (pajamas) batik motifs even for official occasions, European dress they wear.

The opposite is also happening to the Java community, including Surakarta which displays his image by wearing a western outfit of a European suit complete with a tie, shoes combined with Surakarta style head coverings.

Mangkunegara VI at an inauguration ceremony of Langenharja guest house came wearing a garment that was combined with a European coat cut into the back with a batik cloth which became known as Langendriyan.

14. Economy System

Actually, Indonesia here embraces a mixed economic system between the mix of capitalism and socialism system, this mixed economic system is an economic system where government and private parties (individuals) cooperate in carrying out economic activities. Named Mixed economic system because Indonesia’s economic system is a merger between market mechanism and government interference.

In a mixed economic system, the purpose of intervening in the role of government in economic activity is to corporate economic or market imperfections.

This mixed system is a blend of socialist and capitalist economic ideology. Although actually referred to as a mixed economic system with the ideology of Pancasila, or Pancasila economic system.

That is, the system of economic activity imbued by the ideology of Pancasila, the economic activities carried out based on joint efforts based on the principle of kinship of the people, by the people, for the people under the supervision and control of the government. Because the system is also influenced by the colonial system which until now still applied in the economic field in Indonesia.

15. Buildings Architectural 

One of cultural imperialism in Indonesia happened in building architectural, such as the colonial architecture is the archaic architecture of its parent country Europe to its colonies, Dutch colonial architecture is a Dutch architecture developed in Indonesia, as long as Indonesia was still in Dutch power from the early 17th century until 1942.

Colonial building model is often found in various cities in Indonesia, especially in the cities ever colonized by the Netherlands such as Surabaya, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Semarang, Malang, and others. This colonial architectural building model is also called the Empire Style / The Dutch Colonial.

The building model is not only found in residential buildings but also in the model of government buildings such as offices, stations, houses of worship, for example, the Museum Fatahillah Jakarta, Jakarta Kota Station, Bank Mandiri Jakarta Museum, and Gedung Sate Bandung.

Read also :

Thus, a little history about the impact of cultural imperialism in Indonesia, it cannot be separated just like that because it has become a historical relic worth the price. Might be useful.

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