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Colonial and Post-Colonial Connections in Dutch Literature

Last month I attended The 2011 UC Berkeley Conference in Dutch Literature.  For me, the highlight of the almost three-day conference was Friday, September 16, 2011, which was dedicated to Indonesia. It did not surprise me Indonesia was given center stage. After all, it had been the greatest asset of the Dutch crown.

Between the opening address of the conference by Jeroen Dewulf and the engaging presentation of keynote speaker Adriaan van Dis, Sqeezed between Rice and Potatoe: Personal Reflections of a Dutch (Post) Colonial Youth, the ten lectures of that day covered a wide range of topics and took the audience through history.

Wilma Scheffers paid tribute to the Dutch politician and author Wolter Robert van Hoëvell known as one of the forerunners  of political reforms during the colonial rule. Her presentation was contrasted by an animated rendition by historian Rudolf Mrazek regarding the internment camp Boven Digoel in Irian Barat, then New Guinea.

We moved into the present through the writings of Tjalie Robinson, Maria Dermoût, and Marion Bloem, through insightful discussions by respectively Jeroen Dewulff, Olf Praamstra and Pamela Pattynama.

Ingrid Dümpel pointed out the emerging of authentic Indo Eurepean youth literature.

While the information and insights gleaned from the lectures and conversations with the presenters were far more than I would ever be able to extract from Google, I was left at the end of the day with the thought, And what about the Chinese? We too were affected by colonialism. We too were displaced and for many of us “home” is still a memory.

The conference also offered ample opportunity to network. Several presenters showed a keen interest in Only A Girl.

I was interviewed by Inge Dümpel – editor of the publication

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