Hans Pols proposes a new perspective on the history of colonial medicine from the viewpoint of indigenous physicians. The Indonesian medical profession in the Dutch East Indies actively participated in political affairs by joining and leading nationalist associations, by publishing in newspapers and magazines, and by becoming members of city councils and the colonial parliament. Indonesian physicians were motivated by their medical training, their experiences as physicians, and their subordinate position within the colonial health care system to organise, lead, and join social, cultural, and political associations. Opening with the founding of Indonesia's first political association in 1908 and continuing with the initiatives of the Association of Indonesian Physicians, Pols describes how the Rockefeller Foundation's projects inspired the formulation of a nationalist health programme. Tracing the story through the Japanese annexation, the war of independence, and independent Indonesia, Pols reveals the relationship between medicine and decolonisation, and the role of physicians in Asian history.
'This is a rigorous study of the social, intellectual and ethical spaces between nurturing and inuring, heroes and professionals, national and nationalist. Reading through the uniquely rich Dutch Indies and Indonesian archives on medicine, Pols has produced a book that will be of interest not only to historians of medicine and Asia, but also to historians of decolonization.'
Rudolf Mrazek - University of Michigan
'Nurturing Indonesia is a vivid account of the place of medicine in the making of modern Indonesia. With masterful command of sources in Dutch and Indonesian, Nurturing Indonesia brings to life the place of medical doctors in Indonesia’s national awakening. The book highlights the tensions they experienced between their medical vocation and their national aspirations and the influence of medical thinking on their conception of the nation. A fine book on the interplay between science and society in Southeast Asia.'
Robert Cribb - Australian National University, Canberra