Organized Panel Session
This paper examines the role of medical humanitarianism in formations and fantasies of the native mass public in late colonial Indonesia. It looks at a particular institution of humanitarian care that was prominent in the late colonial period: the missionary clinic. Missionary medical care in the Netherlands Indies proved to be a unifying practice among Dutch colonial and metropolitan publics which saw the missionary clinic primarily as a form of humanitarian care and colonial benevolence. Recognizing their celebration of colonial humanitarianism as a response to growing anxieties surrounding the native mass public, this paper asks a series of interrelated questions: How did missionary hospitals gain such broad appeal? How did they achieve a sort of secularity in the eyes of a wider public that was often unsympathetic to missionary proselytization? And more to the point, what sort of native biological, political, and expressive bodies and publics did humanitarian care promise to create? In exploring these questions, this paper will place medicine and the native body more centrally in historiographical questions surrounding the politics and ethics of the self-proclaimed Ethical (Ethische) Period of Dutch colonialism (1900-1942).