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Donald M. Stadtner. Book Review: Southeast Asia in Ruins: Art and Empire in the Early 19th Century by Sarah Tiffin

The name Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826) usually conjures up the founding of Singapore in 1819 and the city’s much later, famous hotel bearing his name. But Sir Thomas did much more, inasmuch as his career was entwined with the geopolitics of the day. Before reaching Singapore, Raffles was appointed lieutenant governor of Java after British forces seized the island in 1811 from the French and the Dutch. Less than 5 years later, however, Java was peacefully handed back to the Dutch. Raffles’s short tenure on the island resulted in a remarkable work, The History of Java, published in London in 1817, some 2 years after his departure. The History runs for hundreds of pages, and is enlivened with numerous illustrations. As a measure of its popularity, a second edition came out in 1830, with many modern facsimile editions available.  

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Jul/Aug 2017
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