josephine bosma on Sun, 5 Jul 1998 15:58:46 +0200 (MET DST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Monuments or Information?

The following has little to do with online life or culture, but as it
gets not much attention in the Dutch media I presume it gets even
less internationally.

A discussion has started in the Netherlands about the necessity to
focus on the Dutch involvement in the history in slavery. Especially
people of Surinam (a former Dutch colony) origin have very clear
remembrance of this history, as some have (had) grandparents that
were slaves, like the boxer Regilio Tuur.
A similar discussion about the Dutch' actions in Indonesia has
started a few years ago, and is complex because so many veterans
of the war for indepence there and also people of mixed (Indonesian
and Dutch) origin have difficulty excepting most criticism.
The discussion never seems to reach the surface, or a larger audience,
as it can't escape this small circle of sensitive interests. General
awareness about this past grows slowly, but still lacks a lot of
information to get a good understanding of what happened in Indonesia
before and after the second world war. The refusal of certain groups
to forgive Ponke Princen, a Dutch soldier that chose the Indonesian
side in their independence war in the fifties, has obstructed this man
for years in visiting his family in the Netherlands. This year Princen
will visit Holland for the second time, the first time it was only half
What happened in Indonesia is slowly revealed, both of the Dutch there
(the Japanese prison camps and the sufferings during the indepence
struggle) and of the Indonesians and other peoples living on Indonesian

Now there have been people who propose to build special monuments to
remember the slavery episode of Dutch history. A member of a Surinam
organisation stated on the NOS news Friday that his organisation was
asked several times to work on a national monument of some kind for
slavery, but, said he: "It is not our problem, it is a problem of
the white people." And he is mostly right of course.
How best to deal with this problem though? When the suggestion was
first uttered a small discussion happened in collumns and letters
in Dutch newspapers. Some find the idea of monuments bad because they
think the Dutch people in general now have nothing to do with that
episode in history, others think monuments are senseless objects. The
latter propose information in schools and in public media.
There is not much information on Surinam in public media yet, at least
not from before its indepence and later the military coup there.

I just wanted to share this relatively small detail of the Dutch news
with you here and invite you to give suggestions how to deal with the
colonial pasts (the Dutch were supported by the Brittish (Australian)
and others heavily). If you have more information on Surinam/South
American history, that would be welcome too.

#  distributed via nettime-l : no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a closed moderated mailinglist for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  URL:  contact: