It has been nine months since I last wrote in this blog, basically because I needed to focus my energy somewhere else - researching the cultural legacy of decolonization in the Netherlands.
This, I am happy to say, has resulted in an article of mine appearing in the Canadian Journal Of Netherlandic Studies. Nevermind that it is the 2013 edition of the journal - it only appeared last week.
My article provides an analysis of two Dutch novels. In
the early 1950s Only
yesterday (Nog pas gisteren) and The ten thousand things (De tienduizend
dingen), appeared from a new writer, Maria Dermoût. In this essay I argue
that both of these works helped to shape a collective memory of the
recent colonial past and that with the loss of place, the Indisch community
was threatened by a potential loss of identity, but that literature was able
to provide the memory of a sense of place, and collective memory could
be retained. I argue that this memory
took on a nostalgic form, helping to shape a collective identity based
partially on a melancholy sense of common loss. But dwelling on nostalgic
loss did nothing to help explain the loss of the colony, and thereby
inadvertently contributed to a general unremembering, or refusal to
remember, the painful final years of decolonization. A post-colonial analysis of her
novels reveals that they were written from the viewpoint of colonial
privilege and that, as such, they silenced alternative narratives and
thereby further contributed to unremembering the painful process of
decolonization. I conclude that Dermoût’s work helped to create a
mnemonic community based on nostalgic remembering, but by trivialising
or ignoring Indonesian nationalist aspirations, her work inadvertently
served to unremember the reality of decolonization. I hope you'll go to this link and read my entire article, or download this version. I would love to hear back from you.