Taylor, Jean Gelman 1944- (Jean Taylor)

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Taylor, Jean Gelman 1944- (Jean Taylor)


Born August 7, 1944; married Howard Gelman. Education: University of Melbourne, B.A., M.A.; University of Wisconsin—Madison, Ph.D.


Office—School of History and Philosophy, Level 3, Morven Brown Bldg., Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia. E-mail—[email protected].


Academic and historian. University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, associate professor of history and history discipline coordinator. Visiting research fellow, Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, Leiden.


Sydney Indonesia Studies Circle.


The Social World of Batavia: European and Eurasian in Dutch Asia, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 1983.

(Editor and contributor) Women Creating Indonesia: The First Fifty Years, Monash Asia Institute (Clayton, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Indonesia: Peoples and Histories, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Contributor to Journal of Southeast Studies.


Jean Gelman Taylor is an academic and historian. She studied at the University of Melbourne before earning a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She eventually became an associate professor of history at the University of New South Wales. Her research focus is in Southeast Asian history, including Indonesian social histories, modernity, Islamic identity, and the role of women.

In 2003 Taylor published Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. The book acts as a history of Indonesia through the ways in which the various ethnic groups and communities of the country have interacted with each other. Taylor focuses primarily on social, religious, and economic developments as opposed to the more traditional approach of centering the historical account on political events.

Lucian W. Pye, writing in Foreign Affairs, described the book as "rich and fascinating." Pye concluded that Taylor "is fair-minded and does not hold back on presenting the dark side of some phases of Indonesian history." M.C. Ricklefs, reviewing the book in the Historian, noted that "there is some good writing in the book, some interesting asides in the vignettes, and good attention to the role of women. There are, however, places where Taylor writes with confidence about matters that are largely unknown and unknowable, notably about the process of Islamization." Ricklefs lamented, however, that "there is also some curiously obscure writing and a level of factual error that make it impossible to recommend this book positively," adding: "Of downright errors there are too many." Ricklefs continued, noting that "as someone who has spent decades studying Javanese chronicles (babad), let the reviewer assure anyone who reads Taylor that she is most emphatically wrong" in a number of the claims she makes. Ricklefs concluded: "We all make mistakes. But this work is beyond acceptable limits; it is a disappointing book by an experienced teacher of Indonesian history."

Eric Tagliacozzo, reviewing the book in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, claimed that "this book is a potent teaching tool." Tagliacozzo added that "this book should also be read by those who wish to ask ‘how do we look?’ ‘How do we see?’ ‘How do we tabulate and define and ultimately interpret the masses of data that exist on any country into a coherent, convincing, and at the same time, necessarily human story?’ Taylor's study succeeds admirably in bridging that deep stream between knowledge and compassion for a country and for a people. This will be a book that Indonesianists will use for many, many years to come." Nan Sumner-Mack, writing in History: Review of New Books, mentioned that "if the book has a weakness, it is the index, which seems rather general and gives short shrift to topics of concern, such as slavery and women's organizations and issues." Sumner-Mack stated that the content "is concise and convincing, with a text stripped of footnotes but supplemented by a useful chapter-by-chapter bibliography."



Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, December 1, 2003, R. Van Niel, review of Indonesia: Peoples and Histories, p. 764.

Foreign Affairs, September-October, 2003, Lucian W. Pye, review of Indonesia.

Historian, June 22, 2006, M.C. Ricklefs, review of Indonesia, p. 371.

History: Review of New Books, fall, 2003, Nan Sumner-Mack, review of Indonesia, p. 33.

Journal of Asian History, fall, 2004, Sylvia Tiwon, review of Indonesia, p. 227.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, fall, 2004, Theodore Friend, review of Indonesia, p. 342.

Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, June 1, 2004, Eric Tagliacozzo, review of Indonesia, p. 366.


University of New South Wales, School of History and Philosophy Web site,http://hist-phil.arts.unsw.edu.au/ (May 17, 2008), author profile.

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Taylor, Jean Gelman 1944- (Jean Taylor)