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On the cultural politics of representing Dutch Moluccans at Barak 1B in the Netherlands

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2022

Abstract

This article considers heritage-making associated with Moluccans who, in 1951, were forced out of political necessity to migrate from what is present-day Indonesia to the Netherlands. Specifically, it examines how this story of movement has been represented at Barak 1B, a museum that marks the presence of the minority group within the Dutch nation. Following a brief history of the community, the article considers the genesis of the museum before outlining myriad strategies adopted within it to raise awareness about the Moluccan migrants, and insert them into the fold of national heritage-making in the Netherlands. It then considers public opinions about the museum to demonstrate how, despite appreciation for the gesture, the museum has also received criticisms revealing old wounds that have not healed, and contrasting ideas about how the community's heritage should be represented. Additionally, the article exposes the ambivalence felt by the community in terms of maintaining its ethnic identity and yet also ‘fitting in’ as Dutch, exposing tensions between the Moluccans and their hosts, as well as among the Moluccans themselves. It ends with implications for how heritage in Southeast Asia—both the region and its diasporas—need to be studied.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The National University of Singapore, 2022

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Footnotes

The author would like to thank the editor Maitrii Aung Thwin as well as the two anonymous reviewers who read previous versions of the article.

References

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6 This includes those who came as children with their parents in 1951 (referred to here as the first generation) as well as the subsequent generations born in the Netherlands since.

7 Um, From the land of shadows, p. 16.

8 See Smeets, Hans and Veenman, Justus, ‘More and more at home: Three generations of Moluccans in the Netherlands’, in Immigrant integration: The Dutch case, ed. Vermeulen, Hans and Penninx, Rinus (Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 2000), pp. 3663Google Scholar.

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20 Van der Voort, ‘The history of the Moluccans in the Netherlands’, p. 77.

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27 Van der Voort, ‘The history of the Moluccans in the Netherlands’.

28 ‘We wilden niet zomaar iets “in een park”, maar een levend monument’, De Volkskrant, 28 Nov. 1990.

29 Wim Manuhutu, pers. comm., 12 Dec. 2016; see also Oostindie, Postcolonial Netherlands; Utrechts Nieuwsblad/NZC, ‘Over half jaar Moluks museum in Utrecht’, 20 Mar.1990.

30 ‘Een museum moet emoties kunnen tonen’, Dignity, Mar–Apr. 1992, p. 289.

31 ‘Museum als levend monument: “Eigen huis” voor Molukse gemeenschap in Nederland’, Trouw, 28 Nov. 1990.

32 ‘“Andere” historie in museum Molukkers: “Michiel de Ruyter voor ons geen held”’, Amersfoortse Courant/Veluws Dagblad, 23 Mar. 1990.

33 Van der Voort, ‘The history of the Moluccans in the Netherlands’, p. 92.

34 ‘Moluks museum Utrecht donderdag open: Verhalen die onverteld blijven’, Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 27 Nov. 1990; Van der Voort, ‘The history of the Moluccans in the Netherlands’, p. 91.

35 Moluccan Historical Museum, Annual report, ‘Moluks historisch museum. Een goede start. Verslag over de periode 1990 tot en met 1991’, Berita2 MSM / MHM-mededelingen 2,1 1992, p. 7.

37 Steijlen, ‘Moluccan monuments’.

38 The Moluccans hold an annual flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the declaration of independence from Indonesia by South Moluccas on 25 Apr. 1950. See also Steijlen, ‘Closing the KNIL chapter’.

39 Iris van Ooijen, Kampen als betwist bezit: de hedendaagse omgang met de voormalige kampen Westerbork, Vught en Amersfoort (Amsterdam: Aspekt, 2018).

40 Camp Vught National Memorial, https://www.nmkampvught.nl/barak1b/.

41 Brigitte Kok, interview, Vught, 29 May 2017.

42 ‘Barak 1B is the only one left that is original. That is where my family stayed. It is where I used to live. The church is new but before it was all rooms lived by people’; Wim Manuhutu, interview, Utrecht, 7 June 2017.

43 Barak 1A was already a church in 1944/45 for German evacuees. See Otie Thiers, Als muren konden spreken: Museumgids (Amsterdam: NMKV, n.d.), p. 104.

44 Ooijen, Kampen als betwist bezit, p. 167.

45 Kok, interview, Vught, 29 May 2017.

48 Satudarah was formed in 1990 as a motorcycle club whose members called themselves the ‘Heirs of the Moluccan Warriors’, the Pattimura rebels who rebelled against Dutch rule in 1817; Thiers, Als muren konden spreken, p. 158.

49 Ibid, pp. 121–2.

50 Kok, interview, Vught, 29 May 2017.

53 Manuhutu, interview, Amsterdam, 12 Dec. 2016.

54 Louis, interview, 16 July 2018.

55 Kok, interview, Vught, 29 May 2017.

56 John, interview, 16 July 2018.

57 Maria, interview, 16 July 2018.

58 Alexander Ronnooy Kan, quoted in Thiers, Als muren konden spreken, p. 187.

59 George, interview, 18 July 2018.

60 Brigitte Kok, interview, Vught 29 May 2017.

61 Jimmy, interview, Vught, 18 May 2018. This refers to the monuments mentioned earlier that tended to present a static and more historicised rendition of the Moluccan story.

63 Anneke, interview, Den Bosch, 17 June 2017.

64 Jimmy, interview, Vught, 18 May 2018.

65 The general sentiment here is also that younger Moluccans have become very entrenched in being Dutch to the detriment of their Moluccan history and heritage. As one of my respondents, Nona, also said: ‘The younger generations here are not that interested in adat or culture. They are only interested in speaking Dutch, doing Dutch things’; interview, Tiel, 3 July 2018.

66 Steijlen, ‘Shifting to the core of the ethno-cultural position’.

67 Alex, interview, Vught, 18 July 2018.

68 Hans, interview, 16 June 2018.

69 Maarten, interview, 17 July 2017.

70 John, interview, Vught, 16 July 2017.

71 Kate, interview, 20 Nov. 2020. She also said that the ‘Moluccan barrack’ at the Arnhem Open Air Museum focuses too much on the early migration history and the 1970s actions, and not enough on how the community has thrived over the years.

73 Seo, Myengkyo, ‘Museum in transnationalism’, Indonesia and the Malay World 42, 124 (2014): 380–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

74 Kok, interview, Vught, 29 May 2017.

75 Jennifer, interview, Assen, 17 June 2017.

76 Matthew, interview, Bovensmilde, 10 June 2017.

77 Karen, interview, Vught, 14 July 2018.

78 Steijlen, ‘Closing the KNIL chapter’.

79 Manuhutu, interview, Amsterdam, 12 Dec. 2016.

80 It is noteworthy that those involved in the train hijacking and the events of the 1970s harked from the north; many of their (grand)parents had settled in the other large concentration camp in the 1950s, Schattenberg/Westerbork where conditions were much worse than in Lunetten and the Moluccans more isolated from the Dutch.

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82 Elaine, interview, Cappele aan de Ijsel, 17 June 2017.

83 John, interview, Vught, 16 July 2018.

84 Joe, interview, Vught, 17 July 2018.

85 Manuhutu, interview, Utrecht, 7 June 2017.

87 Van Ooijen and Raaijmakers, ‘Competitive or multidirectional memory?’

88 Louis, interview, Vught, 6 June 2018.

89 John, interview, Vught, 16 July 2018.

90 Kim, interview, Arnhem, 18 June 2018.

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92 Salim, interview, Capelle aan de Ijssel, 15 June 2017.

93 Arifin, interview, Arnhem, 30 May 2017.

94 Seo, ‘Museum in transnationalism’.

95 See Edensor, Tim, ‘The haunting presence of commemorative statues’, Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization 19, 1 (2019): 5376Google Scholar; Johnson, Lisa, ‘Renegotiating dissonant heritage: The statue of J.P. Coen’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 20, 6 (2014): 583–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

96 Obeid, Michelle, ‘Home-making in the diaspora: Bringing Palestine to London’, in A companion to diaspora and transnationalism, ed. Quayson, Ato and Daswani, Girish (London: Blackwell, 2013), p. 368Google Scholar.

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98 See Steijlen, ‘Closing the KNIL chapter’.

99 Daniel Boffey, ‘Dutch PM apologises for state's role in abuses in 1940s Indonesian war’, The Guardian, 17 Feb. 2022; ‘Dutch king should apologize to Moluccan people, says former PM Van Agt’, NL Times, 2 Oct. 2021. One prime impetus for the current discussion were the findings of a government-funded research project undertaken and reported by NIOD, NIMH and KITLV, Beyond the pale: Dutch extreme violence in the Indonesian War of Independence, 19451949 (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2022).

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104 Aguilar, ‘Is the Filipino diaspora a diaspora?’.

105 Byrne, Denis, ‘Heritage corridors: Transnational flows and the built environment of migration’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 42, 14 (2016): 2360–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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