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Postcolonial Netherlands

Postcolonial Netherlands: Sixty-five Years of Forgetting, Commemorating, Silencing

GERT OOSTINDIE
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46mvg0
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  • Book Info
    Postcolonial Netherlands
    Book Description:

    The Netherlands is home to one million citizens with roots in the former colonies - Indonesia, Suriname and the Antilles. Entitlement to Dutch citizenship, pre-migration acculturation in the Dutch language and culture as well as a strong rhetorical argument ("We are here because you were there!") were important assets of the first generation, facilitating its integration into the Dutch society. The current Dutch population counts two million non-Western migrants, and the past decade witnessed heated debates about multiculturalism, the most important ones centered on acknowledgement and inclusion of colonialism and its legacies in the national memorial culture. Postcolonial Netherlands, which elicited much praise but also controversy following the publication of its Dutch edition, is the first scholarly monograph to address these themes in an internationally comparative framework. This title is available in the OAPEN Library - http://www.oapen.org.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1402-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 7-22)

    The Netherlands is a small, but densely populated Western European country, a large part of which was reclaimed from the sea. Once a prominent player in world history, it is now a middle-sized partner in the European Union. There have been times when the Dutch were proud of their accomplishments and their position in the world, other times when they were self-effacing or frustrated, and often all of these at the same time. This Dutch ambivalence has also caught the eye of foreign commentators. The British historian Simon Schama observed that even at the zenith of their power and wealth...

  4. 1 DECOLONIZATION, MIGRATION AND THE POSTCOLONIAL BONUS
    (pp. 23-47)

    In retrospect, the story of postcolonial migrations to the Netherlands presents itself as three straight-forward series of cause and effect. The independence of Indonesia unavoidably led to the exodus of the groups which had been linked to the colonial regime. The hastily executed ‘model decolonization’ of Suriname inevitably led to the migration of half a nation. The decision to keep the Netherlands Antilles within the Kingdom of the Netherlands meant that Antilleans would continue to settle in the wealthier, European region of the Kingdom.

    In reality, decolonization nowhere went according to predetermined planning and Dutch politics was, time and again,...

  5. 2 CITIZENSHIP: RIGHTS, PARTICIPATION, IDENTIFICATION
    (pp. 48-72)

    The photo of a Moluccan demonstration at the Dutch parliament square Binnenhof in The Hague in the 1950s tells a clear story of identity claims. The banner‘Christelijk Nederland doe ons recht!’appositely expresses the mood of the demonstrators: you Dutch are Christians, so are we (because you colonized us), so be just to us! No favors were being asked, it was simply a demand for rights. The desire for those rights stemmed from a centuries-long colonial alliance and were further underlined in the appeal to a shared religion. The Netherlands should not shirk its Christian duty.

    The Hague, and...

  6. 3 THE STRUGGLE FOR RECOGNITION: WAR AND THE SILENT MIGRATION
    (pp. 73-100)

    Using a variation of the French warning at level crossings,Un train peut en cacher un autre, the French-Algerian historian Benjamin Stora once described how one memory (of the Algerian war of independence) may obscure another (of French colonial rule in Algeria):Quand une mémoire (de guerre) peut en cacher une autre (coloniale). The emotions around the final bloody phase of French colonial rule in Algeria are still so fresh and powerful, that to this day France is barely able to view this period with any detachment – and is, therefore, a long way from being able to explore the...

  7. 4 THE INDIVIDUALIZATION OF IDENTITY
    (pp. 101-129)

    Repatriates from the Netherlands East Indies arrived in a country that had almost no experience of ethnic diversity within its own borders and where anyone who was not white was regarded peculiar and labelled as such. There was little patience for difference and the pressure to assimilate was great. No wonder Tjalie Robinson, in his constant struggle against that pressure to adapt, rendered Indisch identity through crass expressions: ‘Nations are made, ethnic groups are born: theIndocharacter is inherited and has little to do with logic or the thinking of “an orderly state”.’¹

    Fifty years later, while such a...

  8. 5 IMAGINING COLONIALISM
    (pp. 130-162)

    A few years ago, in an unguarded moment of visible irritation, the then Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, allowed himself to be drawn into appealing to the country to follow the positive example of theVerenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie– the Dutch East India Company (voc). The footage of these words being spoken in the Lower House of the Dutch parliament suggest that he too was somewhat shocked by his own bold comparison. ‘Don’t you think?’, he added in slight hesitation. Mild embarrassment seems to have descended on the parliament, accompanied here and there by disbelief and derision. The political...

  9. 6 TRANSNATIONALISM: A TURNING TIDE?
    (pp. 163-187)

    Long gone is the time when migrants, embarking on a new life overseas, bade farewell to their homeland forever.¹ Technological developments, greater prosperity, and the enormity and complexity of post-war migration flows have resulted in transnationalism, in permanent and often intense relations between citizens of the countries of origin and immigration. This phenomenon has led to a boom in debates and publications over the last few decades. A degree of consensus has taken shape around the proposition that migrants in foreign countries (are able to) develop multiple orientations that connect them simultaneously to their countries of origin and immigration, as...

  10. 7 AN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 188-214)

    The Dutch experience of postcolonial migrations was not unique. A number of other countries found themselves confronting migration flows from their former colonies at the end of the Second World War. In Europe this particularly applied to the United Kingdom, France and, somewhat later, Portugal. Mass migration unexpectedly brought these countries – and the Netherlands – face to face with their colonial histories, with the issue of integration, and the position of colonialism and postcolonial migration in the nation’s imagination. There was more room for the latter in the British and Dutch model of moderate multiculturalism than there was in...

  11. 8 ‘POSTCOLONIAL’ (IN THE) NETHERLANDS
    (pp. 215-242)

    Post-war, the Netherlands became richer, less segmented (verzuild), ethnically more diverse, and more embedded in Europe. Immigration and migrants have been controversial subjects of debate for sixty-five years now, but nevertheless, in that time the Netherlands admitted vast numbers of newcomers and became multicultural. This change raised the issue of how migrants and their children related and ought to relate to Dutch culture. Inevitably, the question that then had to be answered is what that culture, or identity, actually was. The answer has remained controversial; that the answer in 1945 would have been different from the answer in 1975 or...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 243-261)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 262-280)
  14. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. 281-281)
  15. INDEX OF PEOPLE, ORGANIZATIONS AND MEMORIAL SITES
    (pp. 282-288)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)