Research in full swing

The research programme Decolonization, violence and war in Indonesia, 1945-1950 is already well under way. Most participants started on September 1 2017. The research team consists of 30 collaborators, among whom are 25 (part time) researchers. Many of them have been focusing on the history of the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia for a long time.

Some researchers will join the programme later in one of the nine research projects. Such is also the case for Indonesian historians with whom the Dutch researchers will cooperate in the projects Bersiap and Regional studies. In November 2017 a delegation of the Dutch researchers went to Yogyakarta to hold a discussion with their Indonesian colleagues about how to proceed with these projects. 

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Yogyakarta Workshop

The Yogyakarta workshop took place on November 28 and 29 2017, at the Department of History of  Gadjah Mada University (UGM). The UGM team leaders, Bambang Purwanto and Abdul Wahid, selected 17 historians from across the country to participate in this event and possibly in the research programme.

During the workshop there were lively discussions about the divergent Indonesian and Dutch perspectives on the 1945-1949 period: are we talking ‘Revolution’ or ‘Decolonization’? Where can these perspectives meet? Read more about the Yogyakarta workshop

On January 16 2018, The Jakarta Post published an interview with Bambang Purwanto, in which he emphasized the importance of the research programma. You can read the interview here 
Participants of the workshop at Universias Gadjah Mada (UGM)
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Witnesses & Contemporaries

Peter Bouman, Rita Young, Fridus Steijlen and Ad Jansen during the start of the Witnesses & Contemporaries-project, at the Tong Tong Fair in The Hague. Image: Tong Tong Fair/Henriette Guest
The Witnesses & Contemporaries project collects stories, memories and experiences of those who were in Indonesia between 1945 and 1950, including memories from diaries, albums filled with photographs or correspondence between sons and fathers, between aunts and nieces or between lovers. But often nothing has been written. Many memories are kept only in people’s heads and are sometimes retold by family members. 

We ask witnesses to share their experiences and memories with us by sending in letters. In some instances the letters could lead to an interview. Existing correspondence, diaries, photographs and other personal documents are very welcome as well, and so are suggestions: which events are of interest for the research programme, which visions must be dealt with, and to which witnesses the programme should pay more attention. In this way under-exposed stories can be revealed and a more complete image of the 1945-1950 period can be created. 

Different generations can play a part in collecting relevant stories. The first generation would be witnesses and contemporaries, but children, grandchildren or other relatives can tell their stories as well, or assist their parents and grandparents to do so. Please keep an eye on the Witnesses & Contemporaries-site, for our blogs, news articles, and events.
The Witnesses & Contemporaries-project is taken care of by Eveline Buchheim, Fridus Steijlen and Stephanie Welvaart

Refreshing history lessons on decolonization 

Responding to an invitation from the Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei, which is also represented in the Social Resonance Group, some of our researchers contributed to a refreshing course for Dutch history teachers on November 3. 

This well-attended meeting aimed to give teachers an update about the scientific findings of researchers on the decolonization of Indonesia and put these into the practice of Dutch history teaching. 

Read more (in Dutch)

Rewatching the Kick-off

In case you missed the public kick-off of the research programme on September 14, you can watch the livestream here. During the crowded event at Amsterdam's Pakhuis De Zwijger, NIOD-director Frank van Vree explained the outline of the programme and the nine research projects it includes. Subsequently both supporters and opponents discussed the pros and cons of the research programme and, of course the attendees had the opportunity to ask questions. 

Rewatching Een mooi woord voor oorlog (A sugarcoat for war) 

On September 2 2017, the Dutch broadcasting service NOS made a special documentary about the decolonization of Indonesia. Against the background of the commemoration at the Nationaal Indië-monument 1945-1962, NOS anchorman Rob Trip interviewed KITLV Director Gert Oostindie and Lieutenant General (Ret.) Mart de Kruif  about the research programme. You can watch the documentary (in Dutch) here.
NOS-anchorman Rob Trip interviews Gert Oostindie en Mart de Kruif (Image: NOS)
Do you have any questions about the research programme? We will be happy to answer them. Please contact us via We already answered a number of frequented asked questions here.
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