Every once in a while, we get that question that we forget still exists: what is the third generation Indische Nederlanders — am I an Indisch 3.0 or not? We’ll get into these questions. However, since there is much more to the third generation than a definition, we will share some of our observations with you, in the week preceding our anniversary-kumpulan on May 11, 2012.
We have written about this definition-issue before. Two years ago, to be exact. However, these questions keep coming back, and from both sides of the Atlantic. Therefore we have decided to blog about it again – but this time in English. Before we get into this complex matter, we have to warn you: this post is longer than we usually publish.
Generation Indisch 3.0
The generations we refer to are not the same as family generations, but are defined by the moment of migration. Simply put, generation Indisch 3.0 are the grandchildren of the inhabitants who left Nederlands-Indië as adults. The “1.0’s” are the people who came to Holland (or Canada e.g.) as grownups.
However, and this might be confusing, if their parents were still alive, they were 1.0 as well. So both grandparents and greatgrandparents of a 3.0, are part of the first generation. Many of this generation worked hard to be accepted as normal Dutch citizens (or:assimilated).
Generation Indisch 3.0 are the grandchildren of the inhabitants who left Nederlands-Indië as adults
The children that were born to the 1.0’s are the 2.0’s. Some of them were still born in Indonesia (or even Nederlands-Indië). Any child that was younger than 16 when it “repatriated” to the Netherlands, may be considered as 2.0. In the Netherlands, you might notice minor competitions between people of this generation when it comes to their place of birth: “I was born in Indonesia, how about you? (continuing with noticeable triumph) Ah, you were born in Amsterdam. ” This generation either let go of their Indo-roots when they noticed how much stress and pain the topic of Nederlands-Indië caused, or embraced it, starting in the 80’s.
Currently, most of the 3.0’s range in age from roughly 15 to 45 years old. There is competition here as well: “Are you a 3.0 of one or two Indisch parents? (continuing with equally noticeable triumph) Well, both my parents were born there.” By the way, that is ‘worth’ more than two parents who are both 2.0, but were born in the Netherlands.
“Are you a 3.0 of one or two Indische parents? Well, both my parents were born there.”
An Indische Nederlander is someone who has roots in the former Dutch colony Nederlands-Indië and considers himself an Indische Nederlander. That addition sounds self-evident. However, a lot of Moluccans, who could be considered Indisch, don’t consider themselves as such, so who are we to say they are? People that do consider themselves Indisch are Indo’s, peranakans (of Chinese descent), belanda hitams (mixed with African roots) or even a 100% Dutch person (“totok”). Papua’s are the indigenous people of New Guinea and consider themselves Indisch, when they have an Indische parent. Also, we need to say, for the record, that Indisch, in this context, has absolutely nothing to do with India. Nothing.
For the record, Indisch, in this context, has absolutely nothing to do with India.
By now, some of you are staring at your screen, slamming your fist on your desk, shouting: “That is not true! My mother/grandmother/opa/etc was both Indo and Indisch, but didn’t consider himself neither Indo nor Indisch.” Yes, you are right, we know that. That denial is part of our cultural baggage too. However, when they tell you where they were born, most of them will say Nederlands-Indie/ the Dutch East Indies, whereas most Moluccans will say they were born in the Mollucan island group. It seems like a small difference, but the consequences are huge.
The big difference between totoks and other Indische groups, is their ethnic background in relation to their current homeland. Totok-children and grandchildren usually consider themselves Dutch (or any other nationality that applies to your country of residence). That does not always apply to descendants of Indo’s, peranakans and belanda hitams in the same way. Most of them notice that they are not like the Dutch or any other white community.
In today’s world, in urban day-to-day life, knowing what ethnic group you belong to, becomes more and more significant. With all these etnic minorities in the Western World, more often than not, children with Indo, belanda hitam or peranakan roots use their heritage to shape and define their identity.
Most of them notice that they are not like the Dutch or any other white community.
Let’s end with a second basic term: what is an Indo? First off, an Indische Nederlander is not the equivalent of an Indo: not all Indische Nederlanders are Indo and not all Indo’s are Indische Nederlanders. An Indo, in the context that we use it, is short for an Indo-European; someone with both European and Indonesian roots.
An Indo, in the context that we use it, is short for an Indo-European.
There are some technical challenges and urban legends (or misunderstandings, if you will) to the term Indo. Firstly, we have noticed that Indonesians sometimes call themselves Indo as well, as an abbreviation for Indonesian. That’s up to them, but it’s not the Indo generally referred to in relation to the former Dutch colony.
Also, more and more we read online that Indo comes from an acronym: In Nederland Door Omstandigheden (or: Opa)*. Sorry to tell you, but that is not true. That is an urban legend or a broodje aap-verhaal. There is no other way to put it. We have no clue who came up with that (in-) famous acronym for INDO, but we can assure you that the term Indo existed way before the Indo’s came to Holland. To be called Indo was an insult for many decades, starting somewhere in the early days of the Dutch East Indies, as many of you know.
A ‘technical challenge’: an Indo could have been born in Indonesia in the 1950’s, but may also be born tomorrow in Holland, or the US for that matter: when a person of European descent and a person of Indonesian descent have a child, an Indo is born.
The term Indo existed way before the Indo’s came to Holland.
Some say that Indo-European, in its bare essence, refers to a person born anywhere south of the river Indus and has both Asian and European roots. We don’t know how helpful that statement is, considering that in that case, a child born in the Phillipines could also be called Indo. That would become quite confusing. And this stuff is confusing enough already, right?
A short summary, to make sure you are not totally confused by now: an Indo is someone of both European and Indonesian descent, born anywhere in the world, 50 years ago or tomorrow. An Indische Nederlander is someone with family roots in the former Dutch East Indies. And a generation Indisch 3.0 is the grandchild of the Indische migrants who left Indonesia as adults. And then there are a lot of misunderstandings and confusing elements.
Observing the third generation
We certainly hope we have been able to explain the basic terms clearly enough. And we hope you have noticed our somewhat sarcastic undertone: definitions are not what makes us who we are. We are who we want to be. Not all 3.0’s want to be third generation Indisch; they no longer feel connected to their heritage and thus to us. We, as Indisch 3.0, hope to at least stop and perhaps even change this, by making visible how many famous and not-so-famous-yet Indo’s there are around the world and by encouraging 3.0’s to at least accept and hopefully handdown their roots to their children.
That the third generation Indische Nederlanders is more than just a definition, we will show in our anniversary week starting May 8th. We will publish our observations, based on being out there for four years. Are there any specific questions? We don’t have all the answers, but four years of active blogging will take us a long way.
*In Nederland Door Omstandigheden (Opa) means: In the Netherlands because of circumstances (or: because of grandpa), referring to the involuntary nature of the migration to Holland.