The spectre of a global crisis, predicted in 1997, but then failing to materialise outside (parts of) Asia, Russia, and Brazil, now looms again. Expectations of the arrival of a world-wide economic recession might constitute a conducive atmosphere for the study of economic crises and depressions in the past, in this case the Indonesian past. It is in fact somewhat amazing that, the study of the 1930s Depression apart, economic and social historians have not taken up this topic more eagerly during the last five years.
Peter Boomgaard is Senior Researcher at the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology (KITLV), Leiden, and Professor of Economic and Environmental History of Southeast Asia at the University of Amsterdam. His main publications are Children of the Colonial State: Population Growth and Economic Development in Java, 1795-1880 (Amsterdam 1989) and Frontiers of Fear: Tigers and People in the Malay World 1600-1950 (New Haven 2001).
* I am grateful for comments made on an earlier version by Anne Booth, Alex Claver, and Jan Luiten van Zanden.