The Pacific war experience of Dutch Eurasian civilians in Java, 1942-48

Joost Johannes Cote, Natsuko Akagawa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


The European community in what was the Dutch East Indies formed the largest group of European civilians caught up in the events of the Pacific war in Southeast Asia. While they also constituted the biggest group of European wartime civilian internees in that conflict, and experienced the highest mortality rates, a much larger proportion of the European population experienced Japanese occupation outside the wire . In the Japanese period these people were known as the Belanda-Indo, an Indonesian term that referred to their mixed Dutch-Indonesian parentage. In Dutch accounts they are referred to as the buitenkampers those outside the camps , and in the aftermath of the Japanese surrender came to be referred to in Anglophone documents as IFTUs (Inhabitants Friendly To Us). Arriving as refugees in the Netherlands, they were the IIGs (Dutch initials for their characterisation as in Indie geworteld or rooted in the Indies ), given what was hoped as temporary respite before their return to a Dutch colony; later still they were the coloureds rejected by American and Australian migration officials. This chapter specifically focuses attention on this majority Eurasian component of the European civilian community, a group whose experiences have been largely ignored until recently in the various national histories of the Pacific War. In particular, the chapter examines how this community, already an ambiguous category in colonial times, were subjected to multiple processes of identity labelling during the Pacific War and its aftermath. It argues that these diverse forms of ascribed and perceived identity contributed to shaping the war and post-war experience of the Netherlands East Indies Europeans of Dutch-Indonesian descent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Pacific War: Aftermaths, Remembrance and Culture
EditorsChristina Twomey, Ernest Koh
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781317807889
ISBN (Print)9780415740647
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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