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Being ‘Indo’

In a series of weekly articles Inside Indonesia explores the complex stories of ‘Indo’ history and identity


Yatun Sastramidjaja

   Starting a new life in Holland in 1951
   IISG Collection Rijkschroeff 04

We all know that Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony and that after the Japanese Occupation Indonesians fought a long independence struggle before their sovereignty was a fact. Afterwards, Indonesia’s new leaders made sure that the colonial chapter in history was closed. Likewise, the Dutch government did everything to keep the lid on the political particulars of the colonial past. Colonialism was an embarrassing episode which was best ignored. Consequently little is known about the fate of the hundreds of thousands of people who were a product of this colonial past: the people of mixed Eurasian blood, heritage and identity, who were born and raised in the Netherlands East Indies but after the war, were forced to leave the country which they had grown accustomed to calling home.

The stories of how these people have built new lives in the Netherlands or elsewhere, and of the resultant challenges they have faced, are very complex and diverse. They are stories of conflict and conciliation, forgetting and remembrance, denial and recognition, trauma and hope. The larger story that binds these individual stories together is the struggle to redefine and control identity and culture. In the following weeks, Inside Indonesia features a series of articles that

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