Just back from a short trip to Indonesia, where amongst other things I was able to continue my Australian Research Council-funded project on Indonesian historiography after Suharto. One of the most recent and important contributions to the debate is Bambang Purwanto's Gagalnya Historiografi Indonesiasentris? (Yogyakarta: Ombak, 2006). This is a collection of some of Bambang's earlier articles, in which he challenges the dominant line of Indonesian historiography in two ways. He challenges the 'social banditry' line of argument that is at the heart of Sartono's work (by amongst other things, pointing out that many of the bandits were in fact rich, an argument developed by Radin Fernando), and more importantly challenges the 'egocentric' and 'one-sided' nature of nationalist historiography in Indonesia.
Bambang's points are very important in terms of the recent impasse in Indonesian historiography. As part of my own research on this topic I have built up a data base of some 1,600+ books on history published since the fall of Suharto. Rough counts of topics show that 'nationalism' is still by far the largest topic, with over 700 books in that category. As might be expected from recent religious and social developments, 'Islam' comes in second with over 300 books (and many of these on 'dissenting' or indigenous forms of Islam), but almost equal to Islam is the number of books that can be categorised a social history. What is remarkable is that given this large amount of works on social history, no one study that gives an overall social history of Indonesia has yet been produced (and indeed this is also true of the works of Western historians of Indonesia). How strange that we are still writing old-fashioned political histories of 'great men' to explain the country.