Gert Oostindie, born in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands, in 1955. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Professor of Caribbean History at Leiden University.
Guest of the Rector (1 April 2009 – 30 June 2009)
BRINGING HISTORY HOME: POSTCOLONIAL IDENTITY POLITICS IN THE NETHERLANDS
During my three months at NIAS, I wrote the three chapters of my book “Postkoloniaal Nederland; Zestig jaar vergeten, herdenken, verdringen” (2009), and revised a chapter for my co-edited volume “Postcolonial Migrations: Comparative Perspectives” (2010). The decolonisation of the Dutch empire caused unanticipated and mass migrations from the former colonies. As postcolonial communities brought history home and developed identity politics, a rethinking of Dutch history and identity became inevitable. I suggest that a mild variant of multiculturalism facilitated inclusionary gestures towards postcolonial migrants. As time progresses however, the meaning of ‘community’ and ‘identity’ becomes blurred. For later generations, underlining a ‘postcolonial identity’ is becoming a matter of choice or only one among various layers of identity. By implication, the basis for postcolonial identity politics is eroding. The recent round of public gestures and monumental commemorations of colonialism therefore seems to be the closing chapter rather than a new start of the postcolonial era.