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FASS Seminar by Dr Frank Dhont


On Saturday, 2 April, 2016, Dr Frank Dhont from the Institute of Asian Studies, UBD, gave a presentation as part of the FASS seminar series entitled A Story of Sultans and Subjects: Traditional Power in Early 20th Century Borneo.

The quick rise of of colonial power in the 19th and 20th centuries changed traditional rule in Borneo, as it did in many other islands in the region of Nusantara.

An early Dutch map of Borneo

Umar Akam ud-din III, the Sultan of Sambas (1854-1866). (Source: Wikipedia)


Until the arrival of the Dutch and British, various sultans held power over different parts of Borneo.

However, by the end of the 19th century, their power had been substantially eroded.

Meanwhile the Dayaks in many places continued to run their own affairs.

A Dayak with earrings and a lance (taken c. 1920, Dutch Borneo). (Source: Wikipedia)

Map of Indonesia in 1930. The dark blue areas show kingdoms, while the light blue areas were controlled directly by the Dutch. (Source: Wikipedia)


By the early 20th century, there were two sultanates/kingdoms in the British part of Borneo (including Brunei) and 17 in Dutch Borneo.