Commemoration of the Dutch Indies: how pain grows with more attention

Lise Zurné interviewed by Noord Hollandsch Dagblad
Hielco Kuipers

With history comes regular controversy, so too around the interpretation of the Indies commemorations on 15 and 16 August. The fuss shows how sensitive the subject still is, in the Indonesian community but also beyond that. Lise Zurné, PhD candidate at ESHCC, was interviewed by Noord Hollandsch Dagblad to share her insights.

For decades, the Dutch government has presented a one-sided image, says Lise. For example, the commemorations have been organised by former soldiers for a very long time, as indicated in the Noord Hollandsch Dagblad article. This organisation basically expressed that the Dutch acted well in the Dutch East Indies, and as if only their loss should be commemorated. "It was emphasised that there had been a lot of violence against Indo-Europeans and Dutch in 45-46, and that they therefore had the right to restore order," Lise explained. "Without saying that this was a reaction to a system: the Indonesians were done with oppression."

Lise further emphasises how more attention to an event can lead to pain on different sides: "Dutch Indonesians feel that they are not recognised as victims if attention is also paid to the Indonesian victims. They feel they are bombarded as perpetrators." The various researchers cited in the article mainly conclude that to properly commemorate and process painful history, it is precisely important to realise that they can be both victims and perpetrators.

Lise stresses the importance of making the painful history known: "In recent years, a lot more attention has been paid to Indonesia's colonial history, but it mainly remains on an academic level. It would help for the perception if this side of history was given even more attention in pop culture and public debate as well. Everyone knows the stories about World War II, it is taught in schools, and a much more balanced picture has emerged as a result. We also no longer think: all Germans are bad."

More information

The article in the Noord Hollandsch Dagblad contains interesting insights from several experts in the field to write a well-informed piece on coping with and commemorating the painful history surrounding the Dutch East Indies. Curious to read more? Read the entire article here (in Dutch).

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes