Arnout H. C. Van Der Meer | Journal of World History
In 1913, Javanese public prosecutor Soemarsono clashed with his colonial superior by refusing him traditional deference, donning European clothes, and actively engaging in nationalist associations. These actions culminated in an overhaul of the appearance of Dutch hegemony and a widespread emancipatory social change in colonial Indonesia. This history is best appreciated from a world historical perspective that includes both long-term historical processes that shaped Soemarsono’s world, such as the Indianization of Indonesia, the spread of Islam, and Western colonialism, as well as contemporary global developments, such as the rise of Japan, the Chinese revolution, Islamic Modernism, and the appeal of democratic principles. Soemarsono’s awareness of these global perspectives enabled him to successfully ignite change in colonial Indonesia. His story provides an approach that allows historians to emphasize how individual agents make history in a world historical context.