This account of culture and society in the villages of West Sumatra, Indonesia, during the period of Dutch colonialism is based on materials collected from the colonial archives, local Indonesian newspapers and recent fieldwork in Malaysia and Indonesia. The author argues that the impact of colonial land-grabbing and political control led to the formation of a peasant economy in the period. At the same time, the author tackles issues in the recent anthropological debates about ethnography and culture to argue that this period also witnessed the construction of what we now call 'Minangkabau Culture' - a process that involved western ethnographers, colonial officials and Minangkabau intellectuals in an often conflicted process of modern cultural transformation.
"Kahn's new book has lucid prose and advocates scrutiny of the construction of Minangkabau culture in the colonial period. It is thus a welcome contribution to Minangkabau studies, and to the wider contemporary discussion of colonial political economics." --Anthropological Forum