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Jakarta Post

‘Revolusi’, a reappraisal of Indonesia’s awakening history

  • Aboeprijadi Santoso


Amsterdam   /   Tue, January 12 2021   /  01:00 am
Preserving history: A worker covers up a diorama of the country’s founding president Sukarno (second right) and vice president Mohammad Hatta (left) discussing a draft of the Declaration of Independence, inside the Naskah Proklamasi Museum in Central Jakarta, on Tuesday. The museum is undergoing renovations. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

When then-Dutch prime minister J.P. Balkenende urged the Parliament in 2006 to recall the Golden Age of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), there was some indignant booing. “[We need] VOC mentality!” the PM replied angrily. That was a moment that fed into the narrative of the “pride and shame, emancipation and humiliation, hope and violence” of Dutch history, the Belgian historian David van Reybrouck wrote. The VOC, after all, was responsible for genocide there. Van Reybrouck’s new book Revolusi, Indonesie en het ontstaan van de moderne wereld (Revolution, Indonesia and the emergence of the modern world) has been widely praised in the Netherlands – much as his earlier work on the Congo. The book (637 pages) is an attempt to review Indonesian history by exploring how Dutch colonialism was more disastrous than other European powers elsew...