Indo people

Indo people
Indo-Europeans (Eurasians)
Karel ZaalbergE.du PerronLouis CouperusE.Douwes Dekker Dick de HoogP.F.DahlerM.BloemAdriaan van DisBlue Diamonds
Notable Indos:
Karel Zaalberg · E.du Perron · Louis Couperus · Ernest Douwes Dekker · Dick de Hoog · P.F.Dahler · Marion Bloem · Adriaan van Dis · Blue Diamonds
Total population
1,501,000 Worldwide (estimate)[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
Indonesia 1,000,000[citation needed]
Netherlands 431,000 (dd.2001 incl. 2nd generation).[1]
United States 60,000 (excl. 2nd generation)
Australia 10,000 (excl. 2nd generation)

Mainly Dutch, English and Indonesian
Also: Pecok creole, Javindo creole, Portugis creole and Malay


Mainly Christianity
Also: other religions and no religion

Related ethnic groups

Dutch people, other European peoples and Indonesian peoples

Other Eurasian peoples: Anglo-Burmese, Burghers, Filipino mestizo , Kristang people, Macanese people, Singaporean Eurasians

Indo or Indo-European people is a term, used since the 19th century, to describe a Eurasian people of mixed European and indigenous Indonesian ancestry. They are primarily found in the Netherlands and Indonesia, but also in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

In the United States of America the term Dutch Indonesians is used for this particular group of Eurasians, which is a rough translation of the Dutch term Indische Nederlander. The Dutch term Indische Nederlander, more accurately translated to Indies Dutchman, was first coined after World War II. In the Netherlands this term includes all Dutch nationals that lived in the Dutch East Indies, so with and without a mixed ancestry. To distinguish between the two, Eurasians are called 'Indo' and native Dutch are called 'Totok'.[2] In contemporary Indonesia the term 'Indo' is not confined anymore to former inhabitants of the Dutch East Indies, but includes all people of a mixed European and native Indonesian background.[3]

In early pre-colonial (16-18th century) history these Eurasians were referred to by their Portuguese name 'mestiço' (Dutch: Mesties) or as 'coloured' (Dutch: Kleurling). Additionally a wide range of more contumelious terms, such as for instance 'liplap' can be found in literature of all centuries.[4]


Historical overview

Portuguese and Spanish in Southeast Asia (16th century)

The earliest significant presence of Europeans in South East Asia was Portuguese and Spanish traders. Portuguese explorers discovered two trade routes to Asia, sailing around the south of Africa and the Americas to create a commercial monopoly. In the early 16th century the Portuguese established important trade posts in South East Asia, which was a diverse collection of many rival kingdoms, sultanates and tribes spread over a huge territory of peninsulas and islands. One of the main Portuguese strongholds was in the Maluku Islands (the Moluccas), the fabled "Spice Islands". Similarly the Spanish established a dominant presence further north in the Philippines. These historical developments were instrumental in building a foundation for large Eurasian communities in this region.[5] Old Eurasian families in the Philippines mainly descend from the Spanish. While the oldest Indo families descend from Portuguese traders and explorers,[6] some family names of old Indo families include Simao, De Fretes, Perera, Henriques, etc.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]

Early Dutch and English presence in Southeast Asia (17th and 18th century)

Logo of the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC.

With the decline of the Portuguese and Spanish global empires in the early 17th century, Dutch and English maritime merchants began establishing a network of trading posts. In 1602 the Dutch founded the first ever joint stock multinational firm, the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The company was charged with generating profit from trade in the East Indies. The VOC established a European presence initially in the Spice Islands of Maluku and subsequently on Java. English trade posts were established in Singapore and Malaya.

Originally, most Dutch VOC employees were traders, accountants, sailors and adventurers and may have thought of themselves as temporary sojourners. British and other Europeans also settled there, usually as traders or professionals. Most of the settlers in the 18th and early 19th centuries were men, without wives and mixing occurred with the local inhabitants. The VOC and later the colonial government to a certain extent encouraged this, partly to maintain their control over the region.[14] The existing Indo (or Mestizo) population of Portuguese descent was therefore welcome to integrate.[15][16] A Indo-European society developed in the East Indies.[17] Although most of its members became Dutch citizens, their culture was strongly Eurasian in nature, with focus on both Asian and European heritage. 'European' society in the Indies was dominated by this Indo culture into which non-native born European settlers integrated.[18] This would change coming the formal colonization by the Dutch in the 19th century.[19][20][21][22]

Dutch East Indies (1800 - 1949)

Indo Eurasian Cocktail Dress,[23] Semarang, Java, Dutch East Indies, 1922.

Following the bankruptcy of the privately owned VOC at the end of the 18th century, the Dutch state took over its debts, as well as its possessions. Over the course of the 19th century, the Netherlands extended colonial dominance throughout Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, and western New Guinea. The Dutch East Indies became the foundation of the independent state of Indonesia in the middle of the 20th century. In this period a large Indo community developed that was recognized by Dutch law as European, and these Indo Eurasians made up the majority of Europeans in the Dutch East Indies. During this time the already existing Indo population was complemented by the offspring of Dutch, Belgian and German soldiers who served in the Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL).

Indo influence on the nature of colonial society waned following World War I and the opening of the Suez Canal, when there was a substantial influx of white Dutch families.[24] An Indo movement led by the Indo European Alliance voiced the idea of independence from the Netherlands, however only a Indo minority led by Ernest Douwes Dekker and P.F.Dahler joined the indigenous independence Indonesian independence movement.[25]

Japanese occupation (1942-1945)

During World War II the European colonies in South East Asia, including the Dutch East Indies, were invaded and annexed by the Japanese Empire.[26] The Japanese sought to eradicate anything reminiscent of European government. All Europeans were put in Japanese concentration camps. First the POWs, then all male adults and finally all females and adolescents were interned. The Japanese failed in their attempts to win over the Indo community and Indos were made subject to the same forceful measures.[27]

"Nine tenths of the so called Europeans are the offspring of whites married to native women. These mixed people are called Indo-Europeans… They have formed the backbone of officialdom. In general they feel the same loyalty to Holland as do the white Netherlanders. They have full rights as Dutch citizens and they are Christians and follow Dutch customs. This group has suffered more than any other during the Japanese occupation.” Official US Army publication for the benefit of G.I.’s, 1944.[28]

Leaders of the Indonesian independence movement cooperated with the Japanese to realise an independent nation. Two days after Japan's surrender in the Pacific in August 1945, the indpendence leaders declared an independent Republic of Indonesia. The majority of Indo males were either captive or in hiding and remained oblivious to these developments.[29] The Indo community at large did not participate in the Indonesian independence movement. They were singled out as one of the pro-western out-groups and became targets during the violent and chaotic Bersiap period, when thousands were killed. The main revolutionary leader Sukarno was declared the first president of the Republic in 1945. But to the Dutch government he was a collaborator and could not be accepted as an official counterpart. Following a diplomatic and armed struggle, the Netherlands recognised Indonesia’s independence in December 1949.[30][31][32][33]

Indonesian Independence struggle (1945-1949)

At the end of World War II Europe’s colonial presence around the world quickly declined. The Dutch tried to vainly hang on to their colonial possessions in Indonesia during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945–1948), but lost the military and still later political battles they waged, to the newly founded Republic of Indonesia.[34] In the end the Dutch were completely ousted from the archipelago. Although native to the country the Indo community was intertwined with Dutch rule and their intermediary role between colonial government and the majority of local society became obsolete. Notwithstanding many Indos had been active in the resistance movement fighting Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, only a minority was actively involved in the Indonesian revolution. Indo-Europeans in fact became an outgroup heavily targeted by the Indonesian revolutionaries. In the so called Bersiap period during the first year of the revolution many thousands mostly Indo elderly, women and children were killed. After 400 years the Indo community in Indonesia dissolved. The founding of the Republic of Indonesia directly resulted in the Indo Diaspora. In contrast, the United Kingdom managed to hold on to their colonies in South East Asia until 1957 (Malaya) and 1963 (Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore) and were able to maintain the Commonwealth with the British sovereign as the titular head of this organisation. In Singapore the Eurasian community is acknowledged as a separate ethnic group.[35][36]

Indo diaspora (1945-1965)

During and after the Indonesian National Revolution, which followed the Second World War, (1945–1965) around 300,000 people, pre-dominantly Indos, left Indonesia to go to the Netherlands. This migration was called repatriation. The majority of this group had never set foot in the Netherlands before.

Arrival of the vessel "Castel Felice" with Indo Eurasian repatriates from Indonesia on the Lloydkade in Rotterdam. Netherlands, Rotterdam, May 20th, 1958.

The migration pattern of the so called Repatriation progressed in five distinct waves over a period of 20 years.

  • The first wave, 1945–1950: After Japan's capitulation and Indonesia’s declaration of independence around 100,000 people, many former captives that spent the war years in Japanese concentration camps and then faced the turmoil of the violent Bersiap period, left for the Netherlands. Although Indos suffered severely during this period, with 20,000 people killed over 8 months in the Bersiap period alone, the great majority only left their place of birth in the next few waves.
  • The second wave, 1950–1957: After formal Dutch recognition of Indonesias independence [37] many civil servants, law enforcement and defence personnel left for the Netherlands. The colonial army was disbanded and at least 4,000 of the South Moluccan price soldiers and their families were also relocated to the Netherlands. The exact number of people that left Indonesia during the second wave is unknown.
  • The third wave, 1957–1958: During the political conflict around the so called ‘New-Guinea Issue’ Dutch citizens were declared undesired elements by the young Republic of Indonesia and around 20,000 more people left for the Netherlands.
  • The fourth wave, 1962–1964: When finally the last Dutch ruled territory i.e. New Guinea, was released to the Republic of Indonesia. Also the last remaining Dutch citizens left for the Netherlands, including around 500 Papua civil servants and their families. The total number of people that migrated is estimated at 14,000.
  • The fifth wave, 1949–1967: During this overlapping period a distinctive group of people, known as Spijtoptanten' (Repentis), that originally opted for Indonesian citizenship found that they were unable to integrate into Indonesian society and also left for the Netherlands. In 1967 the Dutch government formally terminated this option.[38] Of the 31,000 people that originally opted for Indonesian citizenship (Indonesian term: Warga negara Indonesia) 25,000 withdrew their decision over the years.[39][40][41]

Contemporary history (20th and 21st century)

Many Indos that had left for the Netherlands often continued the journey of their Diaspora to warmer places in the West like for instance California and Florida in the United States of America.[42] Exact numbers relating to Indo immigrants in other major immigration countries like Canada and New Zealand are not documented. A 2005 study estimates the number of Indos that went to Australia around 10,000.[43][44] Research has shown that most Indo immigrants are assimilating into their host societies.[45]

In contrast to Indonesia the Eurasian communities of Malaysia, and in particular Singapore are flourishing, offering their native Eurasian population a wide range of community services including: Heritage and culture studies and exhibitions, family support services, social assistance programs, youth mentoring programs, scholarships and subsidies.[46] Singapore's second president Benjamin Sheares was a Eurasian. Many political leaders in East Timor are Eurasian Mestizo including the former and current President, Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta.[47]

The Indos are a people of mixed Indonesian and European ancestry that developed over a period of more than 400 years. Although all family names are uniformly European, their ethnic composition varies from a range of European peoples such as the Belgian, Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese, Scottish, and Swedish; and equally diverse Indonesian peoples such as Javanese, Sundanese, Ambonese, Manadonese, Moluccan, Borneonese, Sumatran and Chinese. The variety in their ethnic composition and the fact that they are spread out all over the globe makes it difficult to define a uniform Indo culture let alone predict its future.

The older an Indo family is, the harder it becomes to pinpoint an actual percentage of either pure European or Indonesian blood. In most cases this is practically impossible to determine. As Indo culture evolves, steered by the path of the Indo Diaspora, each new generation of Indos keeps integrating more and more into their new homelands. Increasingly the issue of an Indo identity is becoming a matter of personal choice and not a given into which an individual is born.[48][49]

The new generations will determine if their legacy will become more than a historical footnote.[50]

Indos in the United States

During the 1950s and 1960s an estimated 60,000 Indos arrived in the USA, where they have smoothly integrated into mainstream American society. American Indos are sometimes also referred to as Dutch-Indonesians, Indonesian-Dutch, Indo-Europeans and Amerindos[51] . They are a relatively small Eurasian refugee-immigrant group in the United States of America.[52]

Eddie Van Halen, lead guitarist and co-founder of the influential [53] [54] [55] rock band VanHalen, is a famous Indo artist from the United States of America.

Reasons for immigration to the United States

The majority of the 60,000 U.S. Indos repatriated to the Netherlands before they immigrated to the U.S.A. in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These Indos felt Dutch society in the 50's was not prepared for the unexpected postwar influx of hundreds of thousands Eurasians from the former Dutch East Indies colony, competing for housing and employment. They did not experience a warm welcome to the Dutch mother country and felt their war and post-war trials and tribulations were not sufficiently acknowledged by their Dutch compatriates.

Although familiar with the distinction between European and native Indonesian, the Dutch appeared not to be familiar with the existence of an in-between, Eurasian category of people. Even though Indos represent a kaleidoscope of color, ranging from those with blond hair and blue eyes to those with dark skin and black eyes and anything in between, their objection to being referred to by terms denoting skin color and the lack of recognition of the European status they held dearly in the former colony, led to their migration to the U.S.A.

Registration and location in the United States

The Indos mainly entered the U.S.A. under legislative refugee measures and were sponsored by Christian organizations such as the Church World Service and the Catholic Relief Services. An accurate count of Indo immigrants is not available, as the U.S. Census classified people according to their self-determined ethnic affiliation. The Indos could have therefore been included in overlapping categories of "country of origin”, “other Asians," "total foreign”, “mixed parentage”, "total foreign-born” and “foreign mother tongue". However the Indos that settled in the USA via the legislative refugee measures number at least 25,000 people.[56]

Indos can be found in all fifty states, with a majority in southern California.[57] The 1970 U.S. Census recorded 28,000 foreign-born Dutch (Dutch not born in the Netherlands) in California, while the 6 traditional Dutch American stronghold states Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington as well as Florida hosted most of the other 50,000 foreign born Dutch.[42]

The formation of Indo enclaves was prevented because of various factors. Indos settled initially with their sponsors or in locations offered to them by the sponsor. Indos also had a wide variety of occupations and in this respect were not limited to certain geographic areas. There were no forces in the host society limiting the choice of location. Moreover there was a full choice as to where to settle, with the economic factor of family income as only limitation.

Legislative refugee measures

The original post-war refugee legislation of 1948, already adhering to a strict 'affidavit of support' policy, was still maintaining a colour bar making it difficult for Indos to emigrate to the USA. By 1951 American consulates in the Netherlands registered 33,500 requests and had waiting times of 3 to 5 years. Also the Walter-McCarren Act of 1953 adhered to the traditional American policy of keeping down immigrants from Asia. The yearly quota for Indonesia was limited to a 100 visas, even though Dutch foreign affairs attempted to profile Indos as refugees from the alleged pro-communist Sukarno administration.[58]

The 1953 flood disaster in the Netherlands resulted in the Refugee Relief Act including a slot for 15,000 ethnic Dutch that had at least 50% European blood (one year later loosened to Dutch citizens with at least 2 Dutch grandparents) and an immaculate legal and political track record. In 1954 only 187 visas were actually granted. Partly influenced by the anti-western rhetoric and policies of the Sukarno administration the anti-communist senator Francis E. Walter pleaded for a second term of the Refugee Relief Act in 1957 and an additional slot of 15,000 visas in 1958.[59]

In 1958 the Pastore-Walter Act (Act for the relief of certain distressed alliens) was passed allowing for a one off acceptance of 10,000 Dutchmen from Indonesia (excluding the regular annual quota of 3,136 visas). It was hoped however that only 10% of these Dutch refugees would in fact be racially mixed Indos and the American embassy in The Hague was frustrated with the fact that Canada, where they were more strict in their ethnic profiling, was getting the full blooded Dutch and the USA was getting Dutch "all rather heavily dark". Still in 1960 senators Pastore and Walter managed to get a second 2 year term for their act which was used by a great number of Indo 'Spijtoptanten' (Repentis).[60]

Developments in the United States

Unlike in the Netherlands U.S. Indos do not increase numerically. This is due to their relative small numbers and geographical dispersion. Also the disappearance of a proverbial "old country" able to supply a continual influx of new immigrants stimulates the rapid assimilation of U.S. Indos into the U.S.A. Although several Indo clubs[61] have existed throughout the second half of the 20th century, the community's elders are passing away steadily. Some experts expect that within the lifespan of the second and third generation the community will be assimilated and disappear completely into American multi-cultural society.[62] The great leap in technological innovation of the 20th and 21st century, in the areas of communication and media, is mitigating the geographical dispersion and diversity of American Indos. Triggered by the loss of family and community elders American Indos are starting to rapidly reclaim their cultural heritage as well as sense of community.[51] [63] [64][65]

Indos in Indonesia

See also List of Indonesian Indos

Notwithstanding most research has focused on the Indos in Diaspora and it has been established that the majority of Indos that were legally recognized as Europeans in the Dutch East Indies, migrated from Indonesia, a significant Eurasian group can still be found there. Indonesian researchers suggest that at least 1 million Indonesians have a European bloodline.[66] Most Indo families in Diaspora have relatives in Indonesia. Even when taking into account the popular definition of the term Indo used in contemporary Indonesia, the background of the majority of Indos in Indonesia can be traced back to the colonial era.

"...the place that the Indos ...occupy in our colonial society has been altered. In spite of everything, the Indos are gradually becoming Indonesians, or one could say that the Indonesians are gradually coming to the level of the Indos. The evolution of the deeply ingrained process of transformation in our society first established the Indos in a privileged position, and now that same process is withdrawing those privileges. Even if they retain their 'European" status before the law, they will still be on a level with the Indonesians, because there are and will continue to be many more educated Indonesians than Indos. Their privileged position thus is losing its social foundation, and as a result that position itself will also disappear.” Sutan Sjahrir, 1937[67]

In all his foresight Sjahrir did not foresee the Indo community itself practically disappear from Indonesia only 20 years after he wrote this statement.[68]

Descendants from the colonial era

During colonial times Indos were not always formally recognized and registered as Europeans. A considerable number of Indos integrated into their respective local indigenous societies and have never been officially registered as either European or Eurasian sub-group. Exact numbers are unknown. But a group of around 12,000 has been identified by the Indo community in Diaspora and consequently receives support from their overseas Indo beneficiaries.

Another group of Indos, that did enjoy European status in colonial times, willingly opted for Indonesian citizenship. Although most of them did not endure the hardships of the early post colonial years and eventually repatriated to the Netherlands. Notable exceptions are Ibu Nos Fransz, Ferry Sonneville[69] and Ernest Douwes Dekker. Most European family names have been changed to Indonesian sounding names.

As Indo women outnumbered the men a third considerable group consists of the Indo women married to mostly Christian Indonesians. By default this sizeable group became Indonesian citizens. Notable examples are Nelly van Amden married to the Indonesian war hero Alexander Evert Kawilarang and Rochmaria Jeane mother to former Indonesian Minister of Defense Leonardus Benjamin Moerdani.

Case studies by organisations such as Halin[70] show a fourth group concerns Indo children that had either lost their parents or needed to take care of an immobile parent during the years following Indonesian independence and were unable to attain the necessary Dutch travel papers.

In Indonesian media

The presence of Indos in Indonesian media is abundant. More than 50% of the many Indonesian sitcom celebrities have European blood,[71] which can be verified at their websites. Most popular Indonesian bands have at least a few Indo band members. Also the marketing and advertisement industry often uses Indo models and actors to promote products.

At times this dominant position of Indos in Indonesian media fuels national debate. For instance in 2005 when the show Joe Millionaire Indonesia was aired, where dozens of women fought over the Indo Marlon or when the FHM issue with Indo playmate Petra Verkaik was released in Jakarta and sold out in record time.

In the Indonesian film industry

Mira Lesmana, a film producer and film director, has an Indo grandmother from her father side.

Indo actors are popular with both audiences and movie producers and directors alike. While in the past Indo actors were usually chosen to play upper class roles, they now cover the whole array of acting roles. Established and respected directors such as Nia Dinata, Mira Lesmana (she herself is of Indo descent) and Riri Riza have mainly chosen Indo actors for lead roles in their movies.

Even for the 2005 biographical movie Gie, which tells the tale of the Chinese student Soe Hok Gie who challenged the power of Sukarno, the Indo actor Nicholas Saputra was selected. In 2004 the Indonesian Ministry for Culture and Tourism initiated a contest for the best film script. The award winning script was about an Indo girl named Anne.

In contemporary Indonesian society

Outside of the media spotlight Indo communities in Indonesia are clustered around big cities such as Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung and Malang.[72] In Bandung Indos such as Felix Feitsma, a teacher at the School for Tourism,[73] are involved in the Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation.[74] In Malang the Indo upper class is clustered in particular neighbourhoods and Sunday ceremony in the Sion Church is still in Dutch. In Bandung over 2000 poor Indos are supported by overseas organisations such as Halin[70][75] and the Alan Neys Memorial Fund.[76]

Another place with a relatively large Dutch speaking Indo community is Depok, on Java.[77] Smaller communities still exist in places such as Kampung Tugu in Koja, Jakarta.[78] Recently after the Aceh region in Sumatra became more widely accessible, following post Tsunami relief work, the media also discovered a closed Indo Eurasian community of devout Muslims in the Lanbo area.[79][80]

Like the Chinese minority in Indonesia also most Indos have changed their family names to blend into mainstream society and prevent discrimination. The latest trend among Indo-Chinese and Indo-Europeans is to change them back.[81]

Indos in the Netherlands

See also List of Dutch Indos

In 1990 the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics (CBS) registered the number of first-generation Indos living in the Netherlands at around 180,000 people. In 2001 official registration, including the second generation, accumulate their numbers to around half a million. Based on this the estimations, which include the third generation, reach up to at least 800,000 people. This makes them by far the largest minority community in the Netherlands.[82]

Monique Klemann, founder of the influential band Lois Lane,[83] is a famous Indo artist from the Netherlands.


In the 1990s and early 21st century the Netherlands was confronted with ethnic tension[84] in a now multi-cultural society. (In 2006 statistics show that in Rotterdam, the second largest city in the country, close to 50% of the inhabitants were of foreign descent.) The Indo community however is considered the best integrated ethnic and cultural minority in the Netherlands. Statistical data compiled by the CBS shows that Indos belong to the group with the lowest crime rates in the country.[85]

A CBS study of 1999 reveals that of all foreign born groups living in the Netherlands, only the Indos have an average income similar to that of citizens born in the Netherlands. Job participation in government, education and health care is similar as well. Another recent CBS study, among foreign born citizens and their children living in the Netherlands in 2005, shows that on average, Indos own the largest number of independent enterprises. A 2007 CBS study shows that already over 50% of first-generation Indos have married a native born Dutch person. A percentage that increased to 80% for the second generation.[86] One of the first and oldest Indo organisations that supported the integration of Indo repatriates into the Netherlands is the Pelita foundation.[87]

Although Indo repatriates,[88] being born overseas, are officially registered as Dutch citizens of foreign descent, their Eurasian background puts them in the Western sub-class instead of the Non-Western (Asian) sub-class.

Two factors are usually attributed to the essence of their apparently seamless assimilation into Dutch society: Dutch citizenship and the amount of 'Dutch cultural capital', in the form of school attainments and familiarity with the Dutch language and culture, that Indos already possessed before migrating to the Netherlands.[89]

Indo culture

The 3 great guitar masters Indorock legend Andy Tielman, Chris Latul and in the background an image of Eddie van Halen.

Next to their culinary culture, Indo influence in Dutch society is mostly reflected in the arts, i.e. music[90][91] and literature.[92] The biggest manifestation of Indo culture in the world is the Tong Tong Fair,[93] formerly known as the Pasar Malam Besar[94] event, which is organized in the Netherlands every year. The main musical formats Indos introduced to Europe are Kroncong and Indorock.[95] Indo culture by definition is a mix of various European and Indonesian elements.[96] The dominant language spoken by the majority remains Dutch. Indos were never formally educated in the Indonesian language. But many were fluent in the lingua franca 'Malay'. Their mix language known as Petjok[97] (a Dutch/Malay creole, comparable to French/African Patois, or the Portuguese/Macanese Patua) is slowly dying out completely. The single most important champion of Indo culture was the avant garde and visionary writer Tjalie Robinson (1911–1974), who co-founded the Tong Tong Fair.


Notwithstanding the fact that Indos in the former colony of the Dutch East Indies were officially part of the European legal class and were formally considered to be Dutch nationals, the Dutch government always practiced an official policy of discouragement with regard to the post-WWII repatriation of Indos to the Netherlands.[98] While Dutch policy was in fact aimed at stimulating Indos to give up Dutch citizenship and opt for Indonesian citizenship, simultaneously the young Indonesian Republic implemented policies increasingly intolerant towards anything remotely reminiscent of Dutch influence. Even though actual aggression against Indos decreased after the extreme violence of the Bersiap period, all Dutch (language) institutions, schools and businesses were gradually eliminated and public discrimination and racism against Indos in the Indonesian job market continued. In the end 98% of the original Indo community repatriated to their distant fatherland in Europe.[99]

In the Netherlands the first generation Indo repatriates quickly adapted to the host society’s culture and at least outwardly adopted all customs associated with it. Exactly as was the case in the old colony the necessity to blend in with dominant Dutch culture remained paramount for social and professional advancement. For the most part Indo customs became restricted to the private habitat and even there they were under pressure to be discarded. Unlike in the Dutch East Indies pressure to assimilate invaded even the intimacy of the private household. On a regular basis Indos that were lodged in guest houses were carefully screened for so called ‘oriental practices’ by social workers. These deviating ‘oriental practices’ included the private use of any language other than Dutch, the home preparation of Indonesian food, wearing clothing from the Indies, using water for hygiene in the toilet and even the practice of taking daily baths.[99][100]

A small progressive cultural elite around the avant-garde visionary Tjalie Robinson resisted assimilation and struggled to describe, promote and preserve a unique Indo cultural domain. Under both heavy social and formal pressure to assimilate into Dutch culture and society and still carrying the burden of the traumatic World War II and Bersiap experience the vast majority of first generation Indos was not ready yet to embark on a wide scale search for identity. Apart from the rebellious Indo rockers led by Andy Tielman most Indos compliantly focused on civil integration. In what is described in literature as ‘the great silence’ the supposedly ‘noiseless Indo’ disappeared from Dutch consciousness. Throughout the assimilation process of the first decennia much historic and cultural awareness faded even from the community itself.[99]


Although third- and fourth-generation Indos [101] are part of a fairly large minority community in the Netherlands, the path of assimilation ventured by their parents and grandparents has left them with little knowledge of their actual roots and history, even to the point that they find it hard to recognise their own cultural features. Some Indos find it hard to grasp the concept of their Eurasian identity and either tend to disregard their Indonesian roots or on the contrary attempt to profile themselves as Indonesian.[102] [103] In recent years however the reinvigorated search for roots and identity has also produced several academic studies.[104]

In her master thesis published in 2010 Dutch scholar Nora Iburg [105] argues that for third-generation Indos in the Netherlands there is no need to define the essence of a common Indo group identity and concludes that for them there is in fact no true essence of Indo identity except for its hybrid nature.[106]

’Third generation Indos in the Netherlands are nomadic thinkers, concentrating on a consciousness (and evolution) of Indo identity […], instead of the illusion that the essence of Indo identity can be determined. This nomadic consciousness enables them to re-think and re-invent static categories. Nomadism gives its subject energy to fade out borders without burning bridges.’ Nora Iburg, 2010.

However to be able to do this there can not be disregard of history and she mentions the re-construction of family history as the first step.[107]

'Only by doing justice to history and acknowledging the memories and emotions of the first generation, the next generations will be able to construct their own identities.' Nora Iburg, 2010

See also

Other Eurasian peoples

Indo authors

Indo organisations

  • Indische Party est. 1912
  • Insulinde (Political Party) est. 1913
  • Indo Europeesch Verbond est. 1919
  • Freemasonry in the Dutch East Indies



Notes and citations

  1. ^ Note: Official CBS number excluding Totoks, not the reconstructed NIDI number (totalling 561,000 people, including Totoks, Indo immigrants and South Moluccans.) made for 'The Gesture' financial compensation calculations. 2001. See for full formulas and official definitions: Van Nimwegen, Nico De demografische geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders, Report no.64 (Publisher: NIDI, The Hague, 2002) P.82 ISBN 0922 7210 [1]
  2. ^ Willems, Wim "Tjalie Robinson; Biografie van een Indo-schrijver" Chapter: Een Totok als vader (Publisher: Bert Bakker, 2008) P.45 ISBN 9789035133099
  3. ^ Sastramidjaja, Yatun Being Indo (Inside Indonesia, 2011)
  4. ^ Quote: "Liplap: A vulgar and disparaging nickname given in the Dutch East Indies to Eurasians." See: Yule, Henry, Coke Burnell, Arthur Hobson-Jobson: the Anglo-Indian dictionary (Publisher: Wordsworth Editions, 1996) P.518
  5. ^ Notable Mestizo communities with Portuguese roots are the Larantuka and Topasses people, they were a powerful and independent group of Mestizo, who controlled the sandalwood trade and that challenged both the Dutch and Portuguese. Their descendants live on the islands of Flores and Timor to this day. Boxer, C.R., The Topasses of Timor,(Indisch Instituut, Amsterdam, 1947).
  6. ^ Many Portuguese family names can be found on the islands of Ambon, Flores and East Timor. Although most Portuguese family names were adopted after conversion to the Christian religion, many families can still trace back their roots to Portuguese ancestors. (Dutch) Rumphius, G.E. ‘De Ambonse landbeschrijving’ (Landelijk steunpunt educatie Molukkers, Utrecht, 2002) ISBN 90-76729-29-8
  7. ^ Justus M. Van Der Kroef 'The Indonesian Eurasian and His Culture'
  8. ^ (Portuguese) Pinto da Franca, A. ‘Influencia Portuguesa na Indonesia’ (In: ‘STUDIA N° 33’, pp. 161-234, 1971, Lisbon, Portugal)
  9. ^ (Portuguese) Rebelo, Gabriel ‘Informaçao das cousas de Maluco 1569’ (1856 & 1955, Lisboa, Portugal)
  10. ^ Boxer, C. R. ‘Portuguese and Spanish Projects for the Conquest of Southeast Asia, 1580-1600’ (In: ‘Journal of Asian History’ Vol. 3, 1969; pp. 118-136.)
  11. ^ Braga Collection National Library of Australia
  12. ^ Family tree Indo Eurasian family with Portuguese roots
  13. ^ Timeline Milestones 1
  14. ^ Boxer C.R. ‘The Dutch Seaborne Empire 1600–1800’ (Penguin 1991) ISBN13: 9780140136180 [2] p.220
  15. ^ The language of trade was Malay with Portuguese influences. To this day the Indonesian language has a relatively large vocabulary of words with Portuguese roots e.g. Sunday, party, soap, table, flag, school.
  16. ^ Throughout this period Indo people were also referred to by their Portuguese name: Mestizo.
  17. ^ In this time period the word (and country) 'Indonesia' did not exist yet. Neither was the colony of the 'Dutch East Indies' founded yet.
  18. ^ The non native born (totok) Europeans adopted Indo culture and customs. The Indo lifestyle (e.g. language and dress code) only came under exceeding pressure to westernise in the following centuries of formal Dutch colonisation. See: Taylor, Jean Gelman ‘The Social World of Batavia: European and Eurasian in Dutch Asia’ (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983). ISBN 9780300097092
  19. ^ Blusse, Leonard. ’Strange company: Chinese settlers, Mestizo women, and the Dutch in VOC Batavia.’ (Dordrecht-Holland; Riverton, U.S.A., Foris Publications, 1986. xiii, 302p.) number: 959.82 B659
  20. ^ Boxer, C. R. ‘Jan Compagnie in war and peace, 1602-1799: a short history of the Dutch East-India Company.’ (Hong Kong, Heinemann Asia, 1979. 115p.) number: 382.060492 B788
  21. ^ Masselman, George. ’The cradle of colonialism.’ (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1963) number: 382.09492 MAS
  22. ^ Timeline Milestones 2
  23. ^ A clear distinguishing mark of Indos was their European dress code. Until the 20th century, most Indonesians went barefoot.[citation needed]
  24. ^ Bosma U., Raben R. ‘Being "Dutch" in the Indies: a history of creolisation and empire, 1500–1920’ (University of Michigan, NUS Press, 2008) ISBN 9971693739 [3]
  25. ^ 'E.F.E. Douwes Dekker (known after 1946 as Danudirja Setyabuddhi), a Eurasian and descendant of the author of Max Havelaar. A veteran of the Boer War (1899–1902) fighting on the Afrikaaner side and a journalist, Douwes Dekker criticized the Ethical Policy as excessively conservative and advocated self-government for the islands and a kind of "Indies nationalism" that encompassed all the islands' permanent residents but not the racially exclusive expatriates (Dutch: Trekkers) (Indonesian: Totok).' Ref: Country studies. US Library of Congress. [4]
  26. ^ L, Klemen (1999-2000). "Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942". 
  27. ^ Touwen-Bouwsma, Elly ‘Japanese minority policy : the Eurasians on Java and the dilemma of ethnic loyalty’ No.4 vol 152 1996, p553-572 (KITLV Press, Leiden Netherlands 1997) ISSN: 0006-2294 [5]
  28. ^ War and Navy Departments of the United States Army, ’A pocket guide to the Netherlands East Indies.’ (Fascimile by Army Information Branch of the Army Service Forces re-published by Elsevier/Reed Business November 2009) ISBN 978-90-6882-748-4 p.18
  29. ^ NIOD (Dutch War Documentation) website with camp overview.
  30. ^ Timeline Milestones 6
  31. ^ Japanese Occupation in Britannica
  32. ^ Tarling, Nicholas ‘A Sudden Rampage: The Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia, 1941–1945.’ (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. 2001) ISBN 0-8248-2491-1
  33. ^ Raben, Remco ‘Representing the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia. Personal Testimonies and Public Images in Indonesia, Japan, and the Netherlands’ (Zwolle: Waanders Publishers 1999/Washington University Press) ISBN 9040093466 ISBN 978-9040093463
  34. ^ Dutch historic documentary containing video footage compiled from mostly private recordings and correspondence by Dutch service men compiled by VPRO's national discovery project.(Language: Dutch)
  35. ^ Timeline Milestones 7
  36. ^ Decolonisation links
  37. ^ uit Indonesi� overdracht souvereiniteit en intocht van president Sukarno in Djakarta;embed=1 Link to video footage.
  38. ^ Van Nimwegen, Nico De demografische geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders, Report no.64 (Publisher: NIDI, The Hague, 2002) P.23 ISBN 0922 7210 [6]
  39. ^ Note: These people are known by the Dutch term: 'Spijtoptanten' See:nl:Spijtoptant (English: Repentis). See: Van Nimwegen, Nico De demografische geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders, Report no.64 (Publisher: NIDI, The Hague, 2002) P.38 ISBN 0922 7210 [7]
  40. ^ Timeline Milestones 8
  41. ^ Passenger lists archive
  42. ^ a b Brinks, Herbert "Dutch Americans, Countries and Their Cultures" (2010) Online: [8]
  43. ^ Cote, Joost and Westerbeek, Loes, ‘Recalling the Indies: Colonial Culture and Postcolonial Identities‘, (Askant Academic Publishers, 2005). ISBN 9052601194 [9]
  44. ^ Indo community website Australia.
  45. ^ (Dutch) Willems, Wim, ’De uittocht uit Indie 1945–1995’ (Uitgeverij Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2001) ISBN 90-351-2361-1
  46. ^ Official Platform for Eurasians in Singapore
  47. ^ "Fretilin was established by a seminary-trained mestizo elite with links to left-wing groups in both Portugal and its African colonies." Dictionary of the modern politics of South-East Asia, pg. 115, Michael Leifer, Taylor & Francis, 2001
  48. ^ Crul, Lindo and Pang. ‘Culture, Structure and Beyond, Changing identities and social positions of immigrants and their children.’ (Het Spinhuis Publishers, 1999) ISBN 90-5589-173-8 p.41
  49. ^ (Dutch) De Vries, Marlene. ‘’Indisch is een gevoel, de tweede en derde generatie Indische Nederlanders.’’ (Amsterdam University Press, 2009) ISBN 978 90 8964 125 0 [10] P.354
  50. ^ A 2006 article about third-generation Indos.
  51. ^ a b UC Berkeley 'Amerindo' Research Website.
  52. ^ Greenbaum-Kasson, Elisabeth The long way home. LA Times Article, dated Feb 2011. Online:[11]
  53. ^ [12]
  54. ^ [13]
  55. ^
  56. ^ Willlems, Wim "De uittocht uit Indie (1945–1995), De geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders" (Publisher: Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2001) p.254 ISBN 90 351 2361 1
  57. ^ Holland Festival in L.A., CA.
  58. ^ Willlems, Wim "De uittocht uit Indië (1945–1995), De geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders" (Publisher: Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2001) p.255 ISBN 90 351 2361 1
  59. ^ Willlems, Wim "De uittocht uit Indië (1945–1995), De geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders" (Publisher: Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2001) p.256-257 ISBN 90 351 2361 1
  60. ^ Willlems, Wim "De uittocht uit Indie (1945–1995), De geschiedenis van Indische Nederlanders" (Publisher: Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, 2001) p.258 ISBN 90 351 2361 1
  61. ^ American Indo organisation publishing the magazine 'De Indo' once established by Tjalie Robinson. In 2007 it's publisher Creutzburg was awarded Dutch royal honours in Anaheim, California for 44 years of dedication to his community.
  62. ^ Indos in the USA, article on the Eurasian Nation platform
  63. ^ Portland (US) News Article about new Indo Eurasian documentary (dd. Nov. 2009).
  64. ^ Website by third-generation US Indos, dedicated to learn about their heritage and foster sense of community.(2010)
  65. ^ On line ‘Facebook’ community by US Indos, started in 2008.
  66. ^ Unlike in the UK, where DNA research showed many of their citizens have a Scandinavian i.e. Viking bloodline, so far no such DNA research had been done in Indonesia. However it is well known that many islands have populations that descend from European forefathers e.g. the Portuguese Topasses and Larantuqueiros descendants on Timor, Flores and Solor. In Australia DNA study was done to determine how much Dutch DNA is mixed with the Aboriginals in a particular area where there were many shipwrecks. The study is being done by the VOC Historical Society in Perth.
  67. ^ Panel paper ASAA conference by Dr Roger Wiseman, University of Adelaide
  68. ^ During the Indonesian National Revolution both Sukarno and Sjahrir groomed the Indo population to join the Revolution. Even his Indo friend the author Beb Vuyk eventually left for the Netherlands after initially choosing Indonesian citizenship.
  69. ^ (Indonesian)Ferry Sonneville official Indonesian webpage
  70. ^ a b Halin Website
  71. ^ Many Indos are chosen to appear in television dramas, and if the light-skinned Indos were given roles as native-looking Indonesian, brown-colored body paint is applied to their face and unclothed part of the skin or a tanning session is given before shooting.[citation needed]
  72. ^ Suvono Website
  73. ^ Felix Feitsma is the only member of his family that stayed in Indonesia after the Indonesian revolution. Dutch newspaper article: "Op klompjes over een dijkje", Maas, Michel (Volkskrant, Foreign section, 15 May 2006) P.4
  74. ^ The non-governmental Bandung Society for Heritage Conservation established in 1987 tries to preserve monumental architecture from the Dutch East Indies era.Bandung Society for Heritage official website
  75. ^ Video footage of interview with Indos in Java, Indonesia made by Halin officials.
  76. ^ (Dutch) Alan Neys Memorial Fundraise Website Retrieved 19 April 2010
  77. ^ (Dutch) Dutch Depok community Website
  78. ^ The Indo community of Tugu descend from the old Portuguese mestizo.Dutch newspaper article: 'Tokkelend hart van Toegoe', Maas, Michel (Volkskrant, 09 jan 2009)
  79. ^ (Indonesian)Online article (id) about the Blue Eyed People from Lanbo, Aceh, Sumatra.
  80. ^ (Indonesian)Jakarta Post article about the 'Portuguese Achenese' People from Lanbo, Aceh, Sumatra.
  81. ^ Indonesian language article on KUNCI Cultural Studies Website
  82. ^ Ref. page 58 of the official CBS 2001 census document.
  83. ^ Live video footage Lois Lane gig.
  84. ^ Ethnic tensions, rooted in the perceived lack of social integration and rise of crime rates of several ethnic minorities, climaxed with the murders of politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 and film director Theo van Gogh in 2004.
  85. ^ Indo immigration as colonial inheritance: post colonial immigrants in the Netherlands, 1945-2002
  86. ^ De Vries, Marlene. Indisch is een gevoel, de tweede en derde generatie Indische Nederlanders. (Amsterdam University Press, 2009) ISBN 978 90 8964 125 0 [14] [15] P.369
  87. ^ Pelita founded and operated by Indos celebrated its 60 year jubilee in 2007.[16]
  88. ^ The Dutch census protocol administered by the CBS registers first-generation Indo repatriates(emigrants with Dutch roots), as well as their children, as foreign born citizens of the Netherlands (Dutch: Allochtoon). [17]
  89. ^ Van Amersfoort, Hans "Immigration as a Colonial Inheritance: Post-Colonial Immigrants in the Netherlands, 1945-2002." in "Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1469-9451"(Publisher: Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies (IMES), Volume 32, Issue 3, 2006) P.323–346 [18]
  90. ^ Indo music in Europe
  91. ^ (Indonesian)Indo music in Indonesia - newspaper articles
  92. ^ Famous Dutch Indo writers include: Louis Couperus (1863–1923), Maria Dermoût (1888–1962), Edgar du Perron (1899–1940), Adriaan van Dis (1946- ), Marion Bloem (1952- ).
  93. ^ Official homepage of the Tong Tong Organisation
  94. ^ Tong Tongs Festival for merly known as the Pasar Malam Besar official website
  95. ^ Live video footage - Indorock performance
  96. ^ Indos such as Paatje Phefferkorn were also instrumental in introducing typical Indonesian arts to the West, such as the martial art Pencak Silat and even traditional Javanese dances. Martial art and dance schools can be found throughout the Netherlands and USA.
  97. ^ Petjok in contemporary media
  98. ^ Dossier Karpaan (NCRV TV channel, 16-10-1961) Original video footage (Spijtoptanten) on Dutch History Website. Retrieved 09-10-2011.
  99. ^ a b c (Dutch)Iburg, Nora “Van Pasar Malam tot I Love Indo, identiteitsconstructie en manifestatie door drie generaties Indische Nederlanders.” (Master thesis, Arnhem University, 2009, Ellessy Publishers, 2010) ISBN 9789086601042 [19].
  100. ^ Note: The Indo practice of taking frequent baths was considered extravagant by social workers as the Dutch at the time were accustomed to taking weekly baths only.
  101. ^ The academic definition in sociological studies often used to determine first-generation Indos: Indo repatriates that could consciousnessly make the decision to immigrate. As off age 12.
  102. ^ Crul, Lindo and Pang. ‘Culture, Structure and Beyond, Changing identities and social positions of immigrants and their children.’ (Het Spinhuis Publishers, 1999) ISBN 90-5589-173-8 p.37
  103. ^ (Dutch) Dutch third-generation Indo website
  104. ^ Recent academic studies in the Netherlands include: Boersma, Amis, Agung. Indovation, de Indische identiteit van de derde generatie. (Master thesis, Leiden University, Faculty Languages and cultures of South East Asia and Oceania, Leiden, 2003) [20] ; De Vries, Marlene. Indisch is een gevoel, de tweede en derde generatie Indische Nederlanders. (Amsterdam University Press, 2009) ISBN 978 90 8964 125 0 [21] ; Vos, Kirsten Indie Tabe, Opvattingen in kranten van Indische Nederlanders in Indonesië over de repatriëring (Master Thesis Media and Journalism, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of history and art, The Hague, 2007) [22] Radio interview with K.Vos ; Iburg, Nora “Van Pasar Malam tot I Love Indo, identiteitsconstructie en manifestatie door drie generaties Indische Nederlanders.” (Master thesis, Arnhem University, 2009, Ellessy Publishers, 2010) ISBN 9789086601042 [23].(Dutch)
  105. ^ Herself third-generation Indo.
  106. ^ (Dutch)Iburg, Nora “Van Pasar Malam tot I Love Indo, identiteitsconstructie en manifestatie door drie generaties Indische Nederlanders.” (Master thesis, Arnhem University, 2009, Ellessy Publishers, 2010) p.134 ISBN 9789086601042 [24].
  107. ^ (Dutch)Iburg, Nora “Van Pasar Malam tot I Love Indo, identiteitsconstructie en manifestatie door drie generaties Indische Nederlanders.” (Master thesis, Arnhem University, 2009, Ellessy Publishers, 2010) p.31 ISBN 9789086601042 [25].


  • Bosma U., Raben R. Being "Dutch" in the Indies: a history of creolisation and empire, 1500–1920 (University of Michigan, NUS Press, 2008) ISBN 9971693739 [26]
  • (Dutch) Bussemaker, H. Th. Bersiap. Opstand in het Paradijs (Walburg Pers, Zutphen, 2005).
  • (Indonesian) Cote, Joost and Westerbeek, Loes. Recalling the Indies: Kebudayaan Kolonial dan Identitas Poskolonial, (Syarikat, Yogyakarta, 2004).
  • Crul, Lindo and Lin Pang. Culture, Structure and Beyond, Changing identities and social positions of immigrants and their children (Het Spinhuis Publishers, 1999). ISBN 90-5589-173-8
  • (Dutch) De Vries, Marlene. Indisch is een gevoel, de tweede en derde generatie Indische Nederlanders. (Amsterdam University Press, 2009) ISBN 978 90 8964 125 0 [27] [28]
  • Gouda, F. American Visions of the Netherlands East Indies/Indonesia (Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2002).
  • Krancher, Jan A. The Defining Years of the Dutch East Indies, 1942–1949 (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers). ISBN 978-0-7864-1707-0
  • (German) Kortendick, Oliver. „Indische Nederlanders und Tante Lien: eine Strategie zur Konstruktion ethnischer Identität.“ (Master Thesis, Canterbury University of Kent, Social Anthropology, 1990). ISBN 0 904 938 65 4 [29]
  • Palmer and Colton. A History of the Modern World (McGraw-Hill, Inc. 1992). ISBN 0-07-557417-9
  • Ricklefs, M. C. A History of Modern Indonesia Since c. 1300 (Stanford University Press, 2001).[30]
  • Schenkhuizen, M. Memoires of an Indo Woman (Edited and translated by Lizelot Stout van Balgooy), (Ohio University Press (number 92) Athens, Ohio 1993).
  • (Indonesian) Soekiman, Djoko. Kebudayaan Indis dan gaya hidup masyarakat pendukungnya di Jawa (Unconfirmed Publisher, 2000). ISBN 9798793862
  • Taylor, Jean Gelman. The Social World of Batavia: European and Eurasian in Dutch Asia (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983). ISBN 9780300097092
  • Taylor, Jean Gelman. Indonesia: Peoples and Histories (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003). ISBN 0300097093

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