Postkoloniale geschiedschrijving, imperialisme en de ballade van Jan Breman
The editors of BMGN asked me to respond to Jan Breman’s review article of my dissertation Engelen uit Europa. A.W.F. Idenburg en de moraal van het Nederlands Imperialisme. I will discuss four points. First, I emphasise that it is important for readers and historians to recognise the complexity of the colonial past. Second, I demonstrate that anti-colonial movements receive significant attention in my book. Indeed, as Breman argues, ‘a brutal and large-scale capitalism’ lay hidden behind the ethical policy. Third, I explain that historians writing about a Europeancolonial subject do not automatically apply a Eurocentric approach: there is a difference between the time of the past and the language about that past. Fourth, I try to situate Breman’s reproach about a certain ‘postcolonial’ vision in the context of colonial historiography, and highlight the importance of historicisation.
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