How Did The Dutch Colonialism Change Indonesia?


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The Dutch established Java as the center of the East Indies, which explains why Java is the economic, political and most populous island in Indonesia. Well, the Dutch did both good and bad things like all colonial masters. Some of the good things were the development of roads, infastructure, closer interaction between Western and Eastern culture and education for a small elite of natives. Christian missionaries also won converts among the Bataks, Ambonese and Papuans.

Some of the bad things were the exploitation of Indonesian resources and labour for the profit of the home country, a racially-based social hierarchy with the Europeans on top followed by Eurasians, Orientals and Indonesians, discrimination against Eurasians and non-whites in jobs in the civil service  and military, and the vast economic gulf between the colonizer and the colonized. Well, the Dutch were not able to foster strong postwar and post-colonial economic and cultural ties with Indonesia as the British and Americans with Malaya and the Philippines.

However, that was partly due more to the aggressive nationalism of the left-leaning Sukarno who sought to eradicate Western influences in Southeast Asia. After the Dutch recognised Indonesian independence in 1949, thousands of Dutch left for Holland, Australia and America. In the 1950s, tensions over West Papua led to the expulsion of 55,000 Dutch and Eurasians. The government even adopted discriminatory measures against the remaining Dutch and Eurasians.

The Eurasians or ''Indos'' have an interesting history. In the early 19th century, many Dutch men came but fewer Dutch females. Intermarriage was seen as a taboo by both cultures though many Dutch men did have relations with Indonesian women. The offspring were not usually recognised by society as legitimate and their status depended on whether their European fathers recognised them.

The Europeans didn't quite recognise Indos as their equal but they occupied a higher status than the non-whites. Still, they were paid lower wages and salaries for the same work and the more recent Pures from the Netherlands in the 1950s regarded them and the older generation of ''Stayers'' as too native.

The Indonesians regarded the Indos as collaborators with the Dutch and did not quite accept them at first. Most now live in Holland, Canada, America and Australia. There are still some in Indonesia.

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