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History, Politics and Culture

Arndt Graf, Susanne Schroter and Edwin Wieringa

Publication Year: 2010

The process of post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction in Aceh will take considerable time and is not easy. This book is an attempt at providing helpful background information on Acehnese history, politics and culture, which would benefit expatriate aid workers as well as foreign and domestic scholars in their dealings with the people of Aceh. It is written by specialists of Indonesian and Acehnese studies from a number of countries, together with Acehnese scholars. As the region was not accessible for decades, this book represents in many aspects a new, pioneering endeavour in Acehnese studies. The chapters cover many important aspects of history, such as the female Sultanahs of Aceh, Aceh’s Turkish connection and the Dutch Colonial War in Aceh. The main emphasis of the book is on relevant contemporary developments in the economy, politics, Islam, and the media, as well as painting, music, and literature.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xi

The tsunami that struck on 26 December 2004 has caused tremendous long-lasting suffering in the coastal areas of Aceh and its surroundings. The process of post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction in this hard-hit region will take considerable time and not be easy. ...

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pp. xii

The production of this volume would not have been possible without the support of a number of colleagues and institutions. In particular, the editors would like to thank those who volunteered to translate articles from Indonesian and German into English, namely Mercedes Chavez (Aceh), Anna Gade (Oberlin College), ...

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The Contributors

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pp. xiii-xviii

Agussabti was born in Alue Lhok (Eastern Aceh) in 1968 and received his Sarjana-1 degree (equivalent to B.A.) at the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Social-Economic Agriculture, University Syiah Kuala in 1991 where he was appointed as lecturer in 1993. ...

Part I: History

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1. The Sultanahs of Aceh, 1641–99

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pp. 3-25

Aceh is perhaps best known as a staunchly Islamic kingdom in the north of the island of Sumatra and as a major trading centre for pepper. Pepper propelled Aceh’s ascendancy in the sixteenth century and it became the main Muslim commercial centre, supplying pepper to the Mediterranean via the Red Sea, and rivalling the Portuguese (Reid 2005, p. 6).1 ...

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2. Aceh and the Turkish Connection

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pp. 26-38

For Southeast Asian Muslims, the faraway Ottoman Dynasty in Turkey represented a dream: a longing for Islamic power at a time of Islamic political decline. However, there were important moments when that dream had immediate political effects. ...

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3. The Aceh War (1873–1913) and the influence of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje

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pp. 39-62

With the Netherlands Indies government’s territorial incorporation of Aceh, the appropriation of Indonesia — in its basic form as it existed until the declaration of independence — was formally completed. The conquest of Aceh and the guerrilla warfare that lasted almost forty years between the troops of the Royal Netherlands Indies Army ...

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4. From Colonial Times to Revolution and Integration

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pp. 63-78

Without any doubt, the Aceh War, which started in 1873, was the bloodiest and most fiercely fought in Dutch colonial history. It is difficult to establish when exactly the war was really over. The Dutch side declared the end of the war in 1903. ...

Part II: Contemporary Economy and Politics

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5. Economic Modernization and Its Influence on the Social System in Aceh

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pp. 81-98

The process of economic modernization in the Western world vastly differs from that which has taken place in Aceh. In the West, the process of modernization emerged as a normal consequence of internal and natural developments in capitalist industry. ...

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6. The Economic Development of Aceh since 1945

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pp. 99-119

How is it that a resource-rich country like Indonesia is so poor? What is the reason why a province like Aceh, with its wealth of oil and gas reserves, which produces and exports a large part of the resources of the whole country, is so bitterly poor? What is the explanation for the fact that a province, which once had a flourishing trade with the outside world, ...

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7. The Aceh Conflict during the New Order and the Following Democratatization Process

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pp. 120-134

This chapter seeks to provide an overview of political developments in Aceh between 1965 and 2004. It will analyse, from a historical perspective, why and how the conflict between the separatist movement and the Indonesian central government escalated, and what attempts were undertaken to end the fighting in Aceh. ...

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8. The Aceh Peace Process

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pp. 135-154

On 27 January 2005, representatives of the government of Indonesia (GoI) and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) met for the first time since May 2003 to discuss the possibility of resolving the almost three-decade-long conflict in Aceh. The conflict resulted from a claim to Acehnese independence, which was proclaimed in 1976 (ASNLF 1976), ...

Part III: Foundations of Religion and Culture

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9. Acehnese Culture(s): Plurality and Homogeneity

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pp. 157-179

Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam is a multicultural province within a multicultural state. Hence, its political leaders not only face the need to integrate ethnic and cultural diversity into a regional framework, but also have to define Aceh’s role within the Indonesian nation. ...

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10. Islam in Aceh: Institutions, Scholarly Traditions, and Relations between Ulama and Umara

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pp. 180-200

Experts have yet to make a comprehensive study of Islam in Aceh, despite the fact that Aceh is the part of Indonesia that first came into contact with Islam. Later, Islam spread from Aceh to Java, the Lesser Sunda Islands, Borneo (Kalimantan), Sulawesi, Maluku, and even Melaka and other territories of contemporary Malaysia. ...

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11. The Shattariyya Sufi Brotherhood in Aceh

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pp. 201-226

Aceh was, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the intellectual centre of Malay Islam and the hotspot of Islamic mystical thinking as well. One of the giants of this discourse was Abdurrauf al-Singkili. He introduced the Shattariyya Sufi (in Indonesian, tarekat) order to Aceh and the Malay world. ...

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12. Nias and Simeulue

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pp. 227-240

A chain of islands follows the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra at a distance of about one hundred kilometres. Some call this chain the Barrier Islands. It consists — from the southeast to the northwest — of Enggano Island and the Mentawai archipelago, situated south of the equator, and the islands of Nias ...

Part IV: Current Debates in Religion and Culture

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13. Picturing Aceh: Violence, Religion, and a Painter’s Tale

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pp. 243-264

The Acehnese have long been pictured as a thoroughly Islamic society, a people whose fervent attachment to dar-al-Islam (the abode of Islam) has earned their Sumatran homeland the nickname of Serambi Mekkah (Mecca’s Verandah). For a time between 1945 and 1953, or — by another reckoning — from 1945 through 1976, ...

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14. Applying Islamic Law (Syari’at) in Aceh: A Perspective from Within

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pp. 265-286

The implementation of Islamic law (shari’a) in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam still evokes discussion among experts. These debates began after the Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 44 of 1999 regarding the Special Status of the Province of Aceh and Law Number 18 of 2001 regarding the Special Autonomy of the Special Region of Aceh, ...

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15. Reading the tsunami and the Helsinki Accord: ”Letters to the Editor” of Serambi Indonesia, Banda Aceh

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pp. 287-299

Nearly eight months after the catastrophic tsunami of 26 December 2004, the Helsinki peace accord between the Indonesian government and Gerakan Aceh Merdeka (GAM) was signed on 15 August 2005. Underlying both events (natural and political) is the tragic loss of human life coupled with the hope for a peaceful and prosperous future for Aceh. ...

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16. Raising Funds, Lifting Spirits: Intersections of Music and Humanitarian Aid in Tsunami Relief Effort

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pp. 300-315

This chapter explores some musical responses to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Aceh in December 2004, and offers snapshots of the ways that music has been used both to help survivors overcome the trauma of the disaster and to raise money for victims and rebuilding efforts. ...

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17. God Speaks through Natural Disasters, but What Does He Say? Islamic Interpretations in Indonesian Tsunami Poetry

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pp. 316-334

In the literatures of the Indonesian seafaring peoples, the sea quite naturally belongs since time immemorial to the most familiar tropes used by poets and storytellers. Their maritime metaphorical field is vast and can evoke a wide variety of possible meanings and connotations, presenting “the sea” in a dazzling array of different perspectives. ...


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pp. 335-342


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pp. 343-370


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pp. 371-386

Image Plates

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E-ISBN-13: 9789814279130
Print-ISBN-13: 9789814279123

Page Count: 386
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Indonesia) -- History.
  • Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Indonesia) -- Politics and government.
  • Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Indonesia) -- Economic conditions.
  • Islam and culture -- Indonesia -- Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam.
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