Attracting and Educating ‘New Citizens’

Indonesian Public Discourse on the Integration of Indo-Europeans Into Indonesian Society During the Dutch-Indonesian War (1945-1947)


  • Muhammad Yuanda Zara Yogyakarta State University



ethnicity, race, nationalism, citizenship, postcolonial Indonesia


So far, the study of indigenous people’s attitudes towards Indo-Europeans in the era of decolonization, especially in Indonesia, has focused on native militia violence against Indo-Europeans. Serious studies on the desire of the indigenous people to persuade Indo-Europeans to become part of Indonesian society have been neglected. By employing the historical method, this study examines how Indonesian nationalists publicly imagined, framed, and convinced Indo-Europeans of their place as the most recent members of the nation during the Dutch-Indonesian war (1945-1947). The newly-born nation essentially consisted of indigenous ethnic groups, which in colonial times were socially inferior to Indo-Europeans. This study shows that there was a systematic attempt from the Indonesian side to define Indo-Europeans as ‘new citizens’ of Indonesia and as siblings of native Indonesians rather than a threat to Indonesian nationalism. Indonesian nationalists took various approaches to attract and educate Indo-Europeans. This article demonstrates that the relationship between the birth of the Indonesian nation-state and ethnic minorities is not only marked by violence, as it has been understood so far, but also by Indonesian public discussions about what mixed-race people mean for a multicultural Indonesian society, on how Indo-Europeans influenced the perspective of Indonesian nationalists on the new racial landscape in Indonesia, and on discourse about identity, nation, state and citizenship in the context of the end of European colonialism and the birth of an indigenous state in Southeast Asia.

Author Biography

Muhammad Yuanda Zara, Yogyakarta State University

Muhammad Yuanda Zara (born in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, in 1985) is a lecturer in the History Study Program, Faculty of Social Sciences, Yogyakarta State University, Indonesia. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Gadjah Mada University (2007) and his MA from Leiden University (2010). In 2010-2014 he was a PhD researcher at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. He received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 2016. Recently his research interests focus on colonialism and occupation in Indonesia, the Indonesian revolution, media and propaganda, and Islam in twentieth-century Indonesia. His latest works have been published in journals such as Southeast Asian Studies, BMGN-Low Countries Historical Review, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, and Journal of Indonesian Islam.


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