Bringing History Home. Postcolonial Immigrants and the Dutch Cultural Arena


  • S. Legêne



Cultural history, Colonial politics, Anthropology, Identity


Bringing History Home: Postcolonial Immigrants and the Dutch Cultural Arena
Three Dutch-language monographs published in 2008-2009 by Ulbe Bosma, Lizzy van Leeuwen and Gert Oostindie in the context of the interdisciplinary research programme Bringing History Home, present a history of identity politics in relation to ‘postcolonial immigrants’. This term refers to some 500,000 people who since 1945 arrived in the Netherlands from Indonesia and the former Dutch New Guinea, Suriname or the Antillean islands in the Caribbean. Bosma traces the development of postcolonial immigrant organizations. In interaction with government policies, these organizations moved from mere socioeconomic emancipation struggles to mere cultural identity politics. Van Leeuwen takes such cultural identity politics as the starting point for her analysis of Indo-Dutch and Dutch Indies cultural initiatives and the competing interests at stake in the Indies heritage discourse. Oostindie discusses these developments in terms of community development and change within Dutch society at large. He introduces the notion of a ‘postcolonial bonus’. In postcolonial Netherlands, this bonus was available to immigrants on the grounds of a shared colonial past. Today, this bonus is (almost) spent. The review discusses the three monographs, as well as the coherence of Bringing History Home as a research programme. Legêne argues, that notwithstanding valuable research outcomes, the very category of postcolonial immigrants does not constitute a convincing category of analysis.


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How to Cite

Legêne, S. (2011). Bringing History Home. Postcolonial Immigrants and the Dutch Cultural Arena. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 126(2), 54–70.



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