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  • The Chinese in Metal Village Indonesia (Warga Tionghoadari kampong Metal Indonesia) by Zheng Yisheng, Qiu Shaohua and Li Chenyuan
  • Pan Nengmei
Zheng Yisheng, Qiu Shaohua and Li Chenyuan. The Chinese in Metal Village Indonesia (Warga Tionghoadari kampong Metal Indonesia). Beijing: China Social Sciences Press, 2019. 431 pages. Appendix. Notes. References. Index. ¥138.

The Chinese in Metal Village Indonesia (Warga Tionghoadari kampong Metal Indonesia), authored by Dr. Zheng Yisheng and his team, is an ethnographical piece [End Page 137] documenting the history, life and culture of the Chinese in Indonesia. It focuses on a Chinese settlement named "Metal Village" on the outskirts of Medan, Sumatra Island, Indonesia. The book is a record of the compelled migration of local Chinese from Ache to the tobacco huts on the outskirts of Medan after the outbreak of the anti-Chinese massacres in 1965, and the progress of a prosperous village by the local Chinese in a swamp over a 50-year period. The authors of this book convey a message that Metal Village serves as the microcosm of the overseas Chinese society in Indonesia.

The book comprises eight chapters. Chapter one is a brief introduction of Metal Village. As the word "metal" means the same in both English and Indonesian, the local Chinese hoped that the village would be as resilient as metal, hence the name "Metal". The village, founded in the 1970s, has over 2,000 villagers, the majority of which are overseas Chinese. Persecuted during the anti-Chinese massacres in 1965, they moved to this place from Ache, a province in northwest Sumatra Island. Chapters two and three illustrate the migration history of Chinese families in Ache who underwent riots from 1965 to 1998. In 1970, when the municipal government of Medan dismissed refugee camps, fugitive Chinese were allowed to establish settlements in Medan. One of the six Chinese settlements founded was the antecedent of Metal Village. Chapter four describes the hard struggle of Metal Village's founders to rebuild their homes, the unity of Chinese villagers to protect their homeland during the riot in May, 1998, and their actions to help refugees in tsunami-stricken Ache in 2004. This chapter also describes in detail the disputes over the ownership of the land of Metal Village. Chapter five focuses on the economy of Metal Village. The authors analyze the role that social capital and trade relations play. Chapter six and seven mainly document the customs related to funeral and wedding ceremonies as well as the religion of the Chinese villagers. The last chapter discusses the culture of Chinese villages and their relations with other ethnic groups.

Chinese villagers of Metal Village are ideal research objects. They are highly representative of all Indonesian Chinese as they have undergone a series of ethical conflicts after the independence of Indonesia (e.g., "Small Business Event", "930 Event", "Flag Raising Event", "41 Teenagers Event", "May Storm"), and witnessed the transitions in the Indonesian Chinese society. They are people of industry and integrity, of charity and harmony. They inherit Chinese culture by maintaining cultural characteristics including customs related to funeral and wedding ceremonies as well as religion. They endeavour to revive Chinese education and improve relations with other ethnic groups, and they are enthusiastic about business rather than politics. They are, in short, typical of Indonesian Chinese. The authors see Metal Village as a microcosm of the overseas Chinese society in Indonesia via the description of the history and status quo of the Chinese villagers. [End Page 138]

This book is laudable for its adoption of the research approach and disciplinary outlook of anthropology. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with 200 reporters, acquired a great amount of valuable data, complemented the lacunae in the literature available and provided rare raw materials for other researchers during their visits to Metal Village in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Guided by the holistic approach of anthropology, the book's thorough coverage on the life of Chinese villagers makes it an in-depth work that helps people acquire overall understanding of Metal Village and the society of Indonesian Chinese.

Moreover, the authors propose some enlightening ideas in this book. For example, they believe that the integration of home and...


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