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date: 01 December 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Focusing on the practices of knowledge exchange within Dutch colonial heritage politics, and the related transnational scholarly networks, in the years immediately before, during and after decolonization, this chapter re-examines the impact of the ends of empire on Indonesia and elsewhere, including their cultural resonances in the post-colonial period. Starting from sites in the Netherlands Indies/ Indonesia, this chapter links up with transnational approaches to imperial and Asian history thriving in the past two decades, often with a focus on the ‘connecting’ Indian Ocean. It engages with the related scholarly queries to look for ways of studying the region beyond empire- and state-centred approaches and beyond the artificial boundaries between South Asian and Southeast Asian studies. It discusses why and how people identify with worlds of ideas, beliefs, and related histories that differ from or compete with official, state-centred histories. Finally, it warns against pitfalls of the new transnational approaches that focus on cultural flows. These run the risk of exaggerating the region’s cultural unity, of constructing idealized and elitist worlds of unified cosmopolitans, and of obfuscating mechanism of inclusion and exclusion at work at state and transnational levels.

Keywords: Netherlands, Dutch East Indies, Indonesia, decolonization, transnational history, cultural approaches, scholarly knowledge networks, heritage politics

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