The Indos of the Netherlands Indies. Postcolonial Immigrants in Diaspora?
Lecture by Humphrey de la Croix (Dutch Historian, director of the research institute SARI)
Th 5-630P, 182 DWINELLE
In each of the colonized regions of the Americas, Asia and Africa ethnically-mixed groups emerged usually known as ‘mestizos’, ‘creoles’ or ‘Eurasians’. In the Dutch East Indies, present-day Indonesia, the Dutch colonizers gave Eurasians or Indo-Europeans (Indos) the same rights as the other (white) Europeans. However, the Dutch colonial authorities never gave the Indos access to the higher ranking positions in business or public governance. Not rarely the Dutch elite considered Indos as second-class Europeans. Most Indos neglected this burden and tried as hard as they could to be Dutch in order to show they were on an equal professional, social and moral level. It is the Indos’ tragic that the underlying reason of their second-class position was simply their skin color. The Indos’ entire orientation on Dutch values and culture meant a denial of their indigenous Indonesian roots. This prevented them to appreciate (openly) being part of the oppressed Indonesian world. The degrading effect of the Japanese occupation, the internment camps and finally the proclamation of the independent Republic of Indonesia in 1945 brought the Indos into a shock. Now they had lost their country and the Dutch as their role model. No longer welcome in their country of birth, the Dutch government allowed Indos to “repatriate” to the Netherlands. Upon their arrival in the Netherlands, the Dutch government forced the Indos to abandon their typically Asian habits and features. This process of assimilation was successful but the question is: what is the emotional price the first generation of Indo immigrants had to pay for their integration in Dutch society?