This episode is not about a particular historical figure, but about an embattled group of women known as the nyai, housekeepers, companions, and concubines in the former Dutch East Indies, or present-day Indonesia.
We’ll learn about them through several narratives, the most popular of which is Nyai Ontosoroh’s story from the 1980 novel, This Earth of Mankind. We’re going to start with a bit of background – how Indonesia was colonized and how the nyai came to be. Then we’ll end with the life stories of several nyai as immortalized in novels and newspapers of the time.
The cover image is a hand-tinted photograph of a nyai by Jacobus Anthonie Meessen, c. 1867
As always thank you to our Patrons: Kheiro, Xiaomeiby by Milish, Jennifer, Christina, Raul, Raymond, Chito, Matt, Shereen, Charlie, Chanda, Yati, Kara, and Mando.
This month's ad is Tuktuk Box. They are a specialty food retailer offering curated Southeast Asian boxes and products founded by two Southeast Asian American women who recognized the need to create a cross-cultural bridge to foster social change. They partner with vetted small business owners and local farmers to share carefully crafted ingredients and recipes from their own community. If you're in the US, go check them out!
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