Susie Protschky

Staff member

Susie Protschky is Associate Professor of History and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow. She is an expert in histories of colonialism and visual culture in Southeast Asia, focusing particularly on photography. Her research ranges across histories of violence, environment and natural disaster, and gender and race in colonial context. Her second book, Photographic Subjects: Monarchy and Visual Culture in Colonial Indonesia (Manchester University Press, 2019) was winner of the Asian Studies Association of Australia Mid-Career Book Prize and the Royal Studies Journal Book Prize. She is an Editor on one of the oldest and most distinguished journals on Southeast Asian Studies in the world, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI)/ Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia. Susie’s focus on visual culture has enabled her to work with the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Singapore, the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Netherlands) and the Leiden University Library Special Collections.

  • Research

    Susie is working on two major projects funded by the Australian Research Council.

    Her Future Fellowship is on ‘Decolonisation and photography in Southeast Asia: Histories and legacies’. This project aims to investigate the untold history of decolonisation in Southeast Asia through amateur soldier photographs taken on the front line of conflicts. Such photographs constitute a vast yet neglected archive that promises unique insights into encounters between combatants on all sides, and with civilians whose experiences have rarely been accessible, particularly women, children and unfree workers. The expected outcomes of this project are to produce new understandings of violence in decolonisation and the long-term legacies of colonialism in Southeast Asia. This project also intends to provide a critical historical framework for understanding the meaning and impact of photographs taken in war.

    Her Discovery Project was on ‘Disaster, human suffering and colonial photography’. This project aims to investigate how photography shaped modern understandings of disaster. During the period modern European empires were at their most expansive, they became increasingly interventionist in indigenous environments and societies. The project will use rich but largely neglected sources from colonial Indonesia (c.1840-1950) to study how images of human suffering in different disaster contexts evolved since the invention of photography. Understanding how and why European expansion shaped modern ideas about disasters, and how photography has developed to communicate human suffering, is expected to benefit community and scholarly awareness of environmental disaster, war and their effects.

    As well as the Discovery and Fellowship schemes of the Australian Research Council, Susie research has been funded by international fellowships at the Research Centre for Material Culture, Scaliger Institute (Leiden University Library), and the KITLV Leiden (Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies).

  • Selected Bibliography


    Photographic Subjects: Monarchy, Photography and the Making of Colonial Citizens (Manchester: Manchester University Press ‘Studies in Imperialism’ Series, 2019).

    Images of the Tropics: Environment and Visual Culture in Colonial Indonesia (Leiden: Brill/ KITLV Press, 2011).

    Edited books

    (with Tom van den Berge), Modern Times in Southeast Asia, c. 1920­–70 (Leiden: Brill, 2018).

    Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-Colonial Indonesia (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015).

    Journal articles

    (with Ruth Morgan), ‘Historicising sulfur mining, lime extraction and geotourism in Indonesia and Australia’, The Extractive Industries and Society, 16 February 2021,

    ‘Burdens of proof: Photography and evidence of atrocity during the Dutch military actions in Indonesia (1945–50)’, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia/ Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 2020, 176:2-3, 240-78,

    ‘Photography and the making of a popular, colonial monarchy in the Netherlands East Indies during Queen Wilhelmina’s reign (1898–1948)’, BMGN (Low Countries Historical Review), 2015, 130:4, 3-29,

    ‘The empire illuminated: Electricity, “ethical” colonialism and enlightened monarchy in photographs of Dutch royal celebrations, 1898–1948’, Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, 2012, 13:3,

    ‘Negotiating princely status through the photographic gift: Paku Alam VII’s family album for Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, 1937’, Indonesia and the Malay World, 2012, 40:118, 298-314,

    ‘Tea cups, cameras and family life: Picturing domesticity in elite European and Javanese family photographs from the Netherlands Indies, c. 1900–1942’, History of Photography, 2012, 36:1, 44-65,

    ‘Dutch still lifes and colonial visual culture in the Netherlands Indies 1800–1949’, Art History, 2011, 34:3, 510-35,

    ‘Race, class and gender: Debates over the character of social hierarchies in the Netherlands Indies, circa 1600–1942’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 2011, 167:4, 543-56,

    ‘Seductive landscapes: Gender and European representations of nature in the Dutch East Indies in the late colonial period’, Gender & History, 2008, 20:2, 372-98,  

    ‘Nature and identity in colonial Indonesia: Literary constructions of being Dutch in the tropics’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 2008, 164:1, 13-37,

    ‘The colonial table: Food, culture and Dutch identity in colonial Indonesia’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 2008, 54:3, 346-57,

    Book chapters

    ‘Home at the front: Violence against Indonesian women and children in Dutch military barracks during the Indonesian National Revolution’ in Katherine McGregor, Ana Dragojlovic and Hannah Loney (eds), Gender, Violence and Power in Indonesia: Across Time and Space (Routledge ‘Women in Asia’ Series, 2020), pp. 59-83.

    ‘Slipping into something more exotic: Transgressive dress in early twentieth-century Java’ in H. Hazel Hahn (ed.), Cross-Cultural Exchange and the Colonial Imaginery: Global Encounters via Southeast Asia (Singapore: NUS Press, 2019), pp. 239-62.

    ‘Modern times in Southeast Asia, c. 1920–1970’, in Modern Times in Southeast Asia, c. 1920–1970 (Leiden: Brill, 2018).

    ‘Soldiers as humanitarians: Photographing war in Indonesia 1945–49)’ in Jane Lydon (eds), Visualising Human Rights (Perth: UWA Publishing, 2018).

    ‘Strained encounters: Royal Indonesian visits to the Dutch court in the early twentieth century’ in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery (eds), Royals on Tour: Politics, Pageantry and Colonialism (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2018).

    ‘Landscape painting in Indonesia: Continuity and change in President Sukarno’s collection’ in Low Sze Wee and Patrick D. Flores (eds), Charting Thoughts: Essays on Art in Southeast Asia (Singapore: National Gallery of Singapore, 2017).

    ‘Orangists in a red empire: Salutations from a Dutch queen’s supporters in a British South Africa’ in Robert Aldrich and Cindy McCreery (eds), Crowns and Colonies: Monarchies and Empires (Manchester University Press, ‘Studies in Imperialism’ Series, 2016), 97-118.

    Camera ethica: Photography, modernity and the governed in late-colonial Indonesia’ in Susie Protschky (ed.), Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-Colonial Indonesia (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015), 11-40. 

    ‘Ethical projects, ethnographic orders and colonial notions of modernity in Dutch Borneo: G.L. Tichelman’s Queen’s Birthday photographs from the late 1920s’ in Susie Protschky (ed.), Photography, Modernity and the Governed in Late-Colonial Indonesia (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015), 71-102.

    ‘Environment and visual culture in the tropics: The Netherlands Indies, c. 1830–1949’ in Robert Aldrich and Kirsten McKenzie (eds), The Routledge History of Western Empires (London: Routledge, 2014), 382-95.

     ‘Personal albums from early twentieth-century Indonesia’ in Gael Newton (ed.), Garden of the East: Photography in Indonesia 1850s–1940s (Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2014), 48-55.


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