Indonesian nationalism out of place, Long Distance Nationalism 0.5

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Indonesian nationalism out of place, Long Distance Nationalism 0.5 Paper Klaas Stutje, MA. University of Amsterdam International Conference Political History Leiden, 4-6 September 2014

Introduction It was not his first experience on the terrain of politics, when the young student Raden Ali Sastroamidjojo (1903-1976) enrolled in the political Indonesian student association in the Netherlands Perhimpoenan Indonesia (PI), in the winter of 1923. Born on the island of Java, this future Prime Minister (1953-1957) and UN-representative of Indonesia (1957-1960) had gained political consciousness within the Javanese student society Jong Java, before coming to the Netherlands. Also, he had come in contact with progressive Muslims within the Sarekat Islam, and with militants from the nascent Indonesian Communist Party PKI. However, despite these political experiences, his confrontation in the Netherlands with the PI, ‘shattered all the ideas and convictions I had brought with me from home’. 1 As he describes in his autobiography:

‘The concept of the unity of the Indonesian people had not yet received the attention of Jong Java, and I was only conscious of my own nationality as a Javanese. But living through and participating in the radical transition period [of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia] caused a radical mental and spiritual change in myself. Very quickly the feeling of being only a Javanese diminished when I began to realize that more importantly I belonged to a larger nation, the Indonesian nation, and that I was no longer an Inlander, Inheems (Dutch for ‘indigenous’), or a bumiputra (Indonesian for ‘indigenous’), but an Indonesian with a new country called Indonesia.’ 2

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Ali Sastroamidjojo, C.L.M. Penders (ed), Milestones on my Journey; The memoirs of Ali Sastroamidjojo, Indonesian Patriot and Political Leader (Queensland: University of Queensland, 1979) 23. 2 Ibidem.

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Another young student in the Netherlands, the future ambassador Arnold Mononutu, confirms that his experience with the PI was formative to his thinking:

‘[T]he Indonesian students in the Netherlands, coming from various ethnic groups [suku] such as Java, Sunda, Minangkabau, Tapanuli, Minahasa, Ambon and Timor, realised that they all descended from the same Malayan family [rumpun Melayu], and were in the same colonial boat. In the Netherlands they breathed free air just like other Dutch citizens. In the Netherlands they felt that they were free and independent Indonesians, without having to comply to the colonial laws and regulations in their motherland.” 3

The free air of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia was not only inhaled by its immediate members. Also within the Indonesian political landscape, especially in the period between 1922 and 1928, the PI, although active in a country far away, was regarded as the most prominent advocate for a unified and independent Indonesia. 4 Continuously and with increasing ferocity its members and former members attacked the Dutch government for its colonial policy. PIgraduates played an important role in establishing the nationalist parties PNI and PNI Baru Mohammed Hatta and Sutan Syahrir most notably - and many of the students who once resided in the Netherlands – Iwa Kusuma Sumantri, Achmed Subardjo and Ali Sastroamidjojo to name some others – would play a crucial role in early postcolonial state formation as ministers and party officials. Studying the Indonesian nationalists in the Perhimpoenan Indonesia, and with a special eye for their foreign engagements with Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and other nationalists in Paris, Brussels and Berlin, I have long struggled to find a proper interpretation and explanation for their remarkably active political stance. What made the Netherlands, or Europe or the outside world for that matter, the locus for this political prominence? Partially, the activities of the PI-activists seem to have been an extension of broader political currents in the motherland, but at the same time these activists were cut off from day to day struggle in Indonesia and operated under new, distinctly metropolitan political circumstances.

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Nalenan, Arnold Mononutu: Potret Seorang Patriot (Jakarta: PT Gunung Agung, 1981) 34. 1922 was the year that the predecessor of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia, the Indische Vereeniging, began to pursue nationalist goals under leadership of Herman Kartowisastro. This political course was maintained until 1931, but in 1928, PI’s unique position was eclipsed when a large assembly of regionally affiliated youth organisations in the Netherlands East Indies pledged allegiance to the unity of the nation, the homeland and the language of Indonesia: the Sumpah Pemuda or Youth Pledge.

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In newspapers and written sources I have found two Dutch words describing the dual

position of the PI: it was a ‘buitenpost’ and a ‘voorpost’. 5 In English, these words could both be translated as ‘outpost’. But whereas ‘buitenpost’ in Dutch signifies a safe haven removed from the actual battlefield or wilderness, ‘voorpost’ connotes a vanguard position and a military bridgehead intruding enemy lines. Both descriptions for the PI are apt, depending on whether one locates the PI’s main battlefield in the Netherlands or in Indonesia. The example of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia demonstrates that it is often difficult to fit expatriate communities in national historiographical accounts. In a library, my future dissertation could be placed on the ‘Indonesian’ book shelve, the book shelve of Dutch (colonial) politics, or the shelve of general anticolonial movements in Europe. On all three shelves, my book would discuss a marginal topic, whereas many contemporaries described this small student community as crucial for their personal development and the future of Indonesia. Because historian’s thinking remains fundamentally nation-centred, scholars find it difficult to assess political activity ‘out of place’; in the context of migration, dislocation, separation and distance.

Nationalism and distance Indeed, there are various academic fields to which one can turn for theoretical reflections on the politics of identification and engagement over distance. Diaspora studies, for example, describe complex processes of transformation and ossification of ‘homeland’ identities, experienced by expatriate communities in their new countries, or by dispersed communities in worldwide diaspora networks. 6 Exile studies also study the experience of displacement, and the painful, yet often fruitful struggle of merging old identifications with new political environments. However, this body of literature takes the issue from a more personal and political point of view, focussing on the turbulent lives of activists, artists, groups and peoples chased from their country of birth. A political frame of thinking about identification and distance is also prominent in social movement studies, making great contributions to our understanding of the phenomenon

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‘Het derde jaar in’, Indonesia Merdeka 3 (1925), pp. 1-2; Ratulangie, ‘Waarom geen strijd?’, Hindia Poetra 4 (juni 1916) , pp. 89-91. 6 Rogers Brubaker, ‘The ‘diaspora’ diaspora’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2005, Vol.28(1), p.1-19; Martin Sökefeld, ‘Mobilizing in transnational space: a social movement approach to the formation of diaspora’, Global Networks-a Journal Of Transnational Affairs, 2006, Vol.6(3), pp.265-284.

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of international solidarity with political struggles far away. 7 Although actions of solidarity symbolise the unity of struggle of the sending and receiving group, they are based on discursive images of what the foreign struggle is about, and of where the acts of solidarity are coming from. Moreover, the concept is not much used to characterise political identification of migrant communities with their motherland, because their political activity is somehow taken for granted. 8 Finally, in recent years studies of nationalism and anti-colonialism have made important progress in acknowledging the importance of transnational politics and the central role of expatriate communities in translating and disseminating ideologies like nationalism and anti-imperialism, and concepts like self-determination, non-cooperation and self-help across borders. 9 In short, from various sides the intermediate position of expatriate communities is questioned, but it remains unclear how to assess the political character of an association such as the Perhimpoenan Indonesia, when it concerns neither a permanent diasporic community, nor an exiled group, or a ‘regular’ solidarity group. As some scholars argued, political engagement of expatriate communities almost becomes a logical and primordial fact, rather than an active identification process that is constructed within a new political context. 10

Long Distance Nationalism A very useful contribution seems to come from the eminent nationalism and colonialismscholar Benedict R.O.G. Anderson. In 1992, long before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram connected the peoples of the world, Anderson observed a new phenomenon among diasporic communities in the West, which he called ‘email nationalism’ or ‘Long Distance Nationalism’. 11 From a safe distance in the First World, exiled communities such as Tamils in Britain, Croats in Australia or Kurds in Germany agitated fanatically for the liberation of

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Steven M. Buechler, ‘New social movement theories’, Sociological Quarterly, 1995, Vol.36(3), pp.441-464; David Featherstone, Solidarity: Hidden Histories and Geographies of Internationalism (London: Zed Books 2012). 8 Cf. Sökefeld, ‘Mobilizing in transnational space’, 266. 9 Rebecca E. Karl, Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century (Durham and London 2002); Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (Oxford 2007); Joep Leerssen, ‘Viral nationalism: romantic intellectuals on the move in nineteenth century Europe’, Nations and Nationalism 17 (2011); Ulrike von Hirschhausen and Jörn Leonhard, ‘Beyond Rise, Decline and Fall – Comparing Multi-Ethnic Empires in the Long Nineteenth Century’, in: Idem (eds.), Comparing Empires. Encounters and Transfers in the Long Nineteenth Century (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 2011) pp. 9-34, there 16. 10 Sökefeld, ‘Mobilizing in transnational space’, 266. 11 Benedict Anderson, Long-Distance Nationalism: World Capitalism and the Rise of Identity Politics (Amsterdam 1992) 1-14.

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their homeland, lobbied with foreign governments and even send money and guns to their compatriots back home. The term Long Distance Nationalism seems an invitation to scholars to theorise about the effects of extraterritoriality, migration and exile on national thinking, articulated through (hyper-)modern manifestations of print-capitalism, without taking political engagement of expatriate communities either as a primordial fact – that is: as a logical consequence of their national background –, or as a constructed identity – that is: as an autonomous development, in isolation of developments in the motherland and perhaps even ‘learned’ from activists or scholars in the new country of residence. However, for reasons unclear, the 1992 essay in which Anderson first coined the term, is not neutral and remarkably negative in tone. Instead of opening a new field of research, he seems to condemn absentee nationalists, conducting politics ‘without responsibility or accountability’. 12 These nationalists:

‘…create serious politics that is at the same time radically unaccountable. The participant rarely pays taxes in the country in which he does his politics; he is not answerable to its judicial system; he probably does not cast even an absentee ballot in its elections because he is a citizen in a different place; he need not fear prison, torture or death, nor need his immediate family. But, well and safely positioned in the First World, he can send money and guns, circulate propaganda, and build intercontinental computer circuits, all of which can have incalculable consequences in zones of their ultimate destinations.’ 13

According to Anderson, these groups are unaccountable, because they do not feel, nor care about the effects in their home country, nor suffer the consequences of police and repression. They are irresponsible, because the actions are only motivated to cultivate their embattled metropolitan ethnic identity in their new home lands, and as such, they are naïve, because without knowing these expatriate communities are being used by extremists in the mother country, who exploit the identity crises of the exiles. In a revision of the article in 1998 Anderson even describes Long Distance Nationalism as a ‘probably menacing portent for the future’. 14 12

Anderson, Long-Distance Nationalism, 11. Idem, The Spectre of Comparisons. Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World (London 1998) 74. 14 Ibidem. 13

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With the apparent radicalisation of second and third generation migrants in the

Western world, and with new forms of social media activism today, Anderson’s characterisation of migrant politics is well received and applied to numerous case studies. 15 However, these case studies often lack critical reflection on the term. Moreover, it seems that Anderson himself gave the term a negative charge without thinking it through entirely. Although the titles suggest otherwise, both articles of 1992 and 1998 devote only the last two pages to the term itself, without testing it to empirical data. In the remainder of Andersons extensive oeuvre the concept Long Distance Nationalism is not used again. Not even in his 2005 book ‘Under Three Flags’ in 2005, in which he wrote about ‘emigré nationalism’ and transnational engagements of three Filipino nationalists in the end of the nineteenth century. 16 In my view, Anderson’s negative framing is unproductive and obstructs further theorisation on transnational forms of nationalism. In an attempt to assign more theoretical weight to the concept of Long Distance Nationalism, I will propose some amendments to the definition and re-examine the apparent radicalising effect of extraterritoriality on nationalist organisations. But before that, a better impression of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia and its position in the Indonesian political landscape is indispensable.

Indonesian nationalism in the Netherlands Originally, the Perhimpoenan Indonesia, or Indische Vereeniging as its predecessor was called, was not radical at all. Established in 1908, the ‘Indies association’ provided the students with a social environment where they could socialise, where newcomers found welcoming support and where contact with the motherland was maintained. The organisation was well embedded in the general academic life of Leiden and other university towns. Many of the members of the Indische Vereeniging had a dual memberships with Dutch elite student societies; the so-called corpora or fraternities. With regards to colonial policy most students adhered to the associationist liberal school of the ‘ethici’, which also found strong support among prominent Leiden professors. 17 These students advocated moderate political reforms

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To name just a few recent examples: Ulrike Ziemer, ‘Belonging and Longing: Armenian Youth and Diasporic Long‐Distance Nationalism in Contemporary Russia’, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 2010, Vol.10(2), pp.290-303; D. Conversi, ‘Irresponsible Radicalisation: Diasporas, Globalisation and Long-Distance Nationalism in the Digital Age’, Journal Of Ethnic And Migration Studies, 2012, Vol.38(9), pp.1357-1379; C. Baeza, ‘Palestinians in Latin America: Between Assimilation and Long-Distance Nationalism’, Journal Of Palestine Studies, 2014, Vol.43(2), pp.59-72; S. Thiranagama, ‘Making Tigers from Tamils: Long-Distance Nationalism and Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto’, American Anthropologist, 2014, Vol.116(2), pp.265-278. 16 Benedict Anderson, Under three flags: anarchism and the anti-colonial imagination (London: Verso 2007). 17 Among Dutch imperial historians the ‘ethical’ tradition refers to a set of reformist social liberal ideas on colonial development that was current in the first decades of the twentieth century among colonial ideologues

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in the colony, with an emphasis on modernisation and development. Nonetheless, these reforms had to take place under Dutch guidance, and hence the ‘ethici’ remained loyal to Dutch rule over the colony. From 1922, the organisation began to steer a new course, away from the loyalist majority, and started to agitate against the Dutch colonial administration. These students were particularly inspired by all kinds of regional emancipatory organisations in the Netherlands East Indies and by anticolonial movements in the wider colonised world, most notably the Indian National Congress and the nationalist Guomindang Party in China. They were also indignant about broken promises of democratisation by the colonial authorities, and had lost confidence in the Dutch colonial authorities to hand over power and responsibilities voluntarily. In 1922, the board changed the name of the organisation from Indische Vereeniging to Indonesische Vereeniging and three years later to its Indonesian translation Perhimpoenan Indonesia, thereby choosing a politicised name that stood for full independence of the colony. 18 By now, the association organised a transient number of forty students, comprising around a half of the student population in the Netherlands. The PI was small, and moreover, it was not the first Indonesian organisation to call for immediate independence. In Indonesia there were various study clubs, regional societies and mass organisations calling for independence on the basis of regional, religious, or class affiliations. 19 The PI was however the first organisation to assert that ‘only a unified Indonesia, that has put communal differences to the side, can break the power of the oppressor’. 20 Arguing against divisions between religious communities, regional ethnicities or social classes, the PI invented a national unity that would later be adopted by most regional organisations and nationalist mass parties such as the PNI and the PNI Baru. 21

and politicians. As such, it does not bear a normative connotation. For a study to the manifold character of the ethical political tradition, see Elsbeth Locher-Scholten, Ethiek in fragmenten. Vijf studies over koloniaal denken en doen van Nederlanders in de Indonesische Archipel 1877-1942. Utrecht: Hes Publishers, 1981: 176-208. 18 ‘Voorwoord’, Indonesia Merdeka (IM) 2 (1924) 1-2. 19 Apart from various regional societies that often adhered to a program of political reforms in the colony, there were some ‘red’ branches within the moderate Islamic mass organisation Sarekat Islam that were dominated by communist militants. They pushed the central leadership of the SI in a more radical anticolonial direction, but in 1923 they were expelled from the SI, resulting in the establishment of the leftist Sarekat Rakyat. Moreover, from 1912 the Indische Partij, began to campaign among Indonesians and Eurasians for political reforms on the basis of racial equality, socio-economic justice and ultimate independence. This organisation was banned within a year, but many of its members went over to a new social democratic organisation Indies Social Democratic Association, which in 1920 evolved in the Indonesian Communist Party PKI. All these organisations advocated decolonization, but they differed in their conception of what should be the foundation of the postcolonial state. 20 ‘Beginselverklaring van het nieuwe bestuur’, Indonesia Merdeka (IM) 2 (1924) 3. 21 George McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and revolution in Indonesia (New York 1952); R.E. Elson, The Idea of Indonesia: a History (Cambridge 2009).

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What made the Indonesian students in the Netherlands so prominent in the nationalist movement? Scholars studying the history of Indonesian nationalism and anticolonialism have long recognised the remarkable position of the PI in the Indonesian political landscape of the 1920s and 1930s. Although only three historians, Harsja Bachtiar and John Ingleson in the 1970s and Harry Poeze in the 1980s devoted primary attention to this student organisation, many others mention the pioneering position, ideological inspiration and practical leadership of the PI and its members in short paragraphs and remarks. 22 However, the question remains why it was precisely this small student society in faraway Holland that translated foreign inspiration and domestic indignation into a new concept of national unity. Often, the epithet ‘western educated’ is given to the (former) PI-students, suggesting that it was their European and academic upbringing in the Netherlands that shaped their political convictions. Although prominent professors in the Leiden university, such as the famous Dutch orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and the law professor Cornelis van Vollenhoven, most certainly exerted influence on these students, it is nevertheless not a sufficient explanation and could lead to the problematic impression that the Indonesians had to be taught to be politically active. However, as shows the example of Ali Sastroamidjojo, many of the students in the PI had been active in youth organisations and political parties before they arrived in the Netherlands, and mention the confrontation with the PI itself, rather than with the university as their main source of inspiration. Instead of elevating the Western education as the prime source of inspiration, it was a combination of factors – both unique to the Indonesian case and common among other expatriate anticolonial communities in imperial centres – that created the necessary circumstances for a political transformation of the Indonesian student community in the Netherlands. Some of these factors were unique for the Indonesian case. Due to ill-considered repressive policies in the Netherlands East Indies, the colonial authorities unintentionally created a centre of anticolonial and seditious activists in the Netherlands. In its ambition to curb outspoken anticolonial organisations, such as the Indische Partij and Insulinde, the Dutch colonial government started to ban ‘subversive’ parties and expelled central activists, 22

Harsja W. Bachtiar, ‘The development of a common national consciousness among students from the Indonesian Archipelago in the Netherlands’, Majalah Ilmu-Ilmu Sastra Indonesia, 6, 2 (May 1976); Harry A. Poeze, In het land van de overheerser, I: Indonesiërs in Nederland 1600-1950 (Dordrecht 1986); John Ingleson, Perhimpunan Indonesia and the Indonesian nationalist movement, 1923-1928 (Melbourne 1975).

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such as Cokroaminoto and Suwardi Suryaningrat but also communists such as Semaoen, Darsono and Tan Malaka. In the Netherlands, these exiles enjoyed relative freedom and started to exert influence over the young Indonesian students in the Netherlands. Some of these students, such as Mohammed Hatta, Achmad Subardjo and Sukiman Wirjosandjojo already had political experience in one of the youth movements in the Netherlands East Indies, and were highly receptive to the teachings and ideologies of radical anti-colonialism and mass based politics. Other factors that made the PI an exceptional organisation in the Indonesian political landscape were common to anticolonial movements in general. In his well-known book Imagined Communities Benedict Anderson describes the bitterness of Bipin Chandra Pal, a prominent Indian nationalists, who complained that no matter how European his education and conduct, and despite his complete estrangement of his ‘own’ society and people, he would always remain an colonial subject under British colonial rule. 23 This frustration with the rigidity of the colour bar was shared by the Indonesian students, and grew worse after the First World War. The first cohorts of students before the War were predominantly from Javanese aristocratic descent; a class that was dependent on the Dutch colonial administration for its wealth and social position. Although many of these young priyayi aristocrats advocated moderate political reforms in the colony, with an emphasis on modernisation and development, they recognised colonial rule, which after all allowed them to start an administrative career in the native administration (Pangreh Praja). After the First World War, however, with the native rubber industry booming, the social make-up of the student community in the Netherlands changed somewhat and wealthy merchant families started to send their children overseas as well. They had enjoyed better education under the new ‘ethical’ policy, but lacked career opportunities or tertiary education facilities in the colony. Moreover, administrative restrictions and fierce commercial competition implied that a future in the world of business and trade was insecure as well. Among these youths, frustration was particularly strong and it led to the conclusion that development of the colony and its population was impossible unless the Indonesian peoples worked together for the total independence of their motherland. 24 Another Andersonian notion with value for the example of the Perhimpoenan Indonesia were the political implications of the ‘educational pyramid’ in the colony. In 23

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (London 1983, 2007) 92-93. 24 McTurnan Kahin, Nationalism and revolution in Indonesia; R.E. Elson, The Idea of Indonesia: a History (Cambridge 2009).

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Imagined Communities, Anderson describes how the colonial demand for well-educated and capable Indonesian functionaries brought many young boys from small Dutch elementary schools in the regional centres to the larger secondary schools in the district capitals, and from thence to Bandung and Batavia, where the few tertiary educational institutions in the Netherlands East Indies were located. 25 This school system brought them in contact with young boys from other parts of the colonial realm and created a new sense of unity under foreign rule. However, Anderson fails to mention that for some of these students their educational journey did not end there. The universities of Leiden, Rotterdam and Amsterdam can be regarded as the ultimate apex of the colonial educational pyramid, and whereas students in Java organised themselves along regional lines, the students in the Netherlands were addressed as a unified group by Dutchmen, and decided to organise accordingly. Only in the Netherlands could youngsters from Java, Ambon and Minangkabau unite in one student organisation. A final factor of influence for the Indonesian students in the Netherlands was the unique political environment in which they operated. As becomes clear from the quotations of Ali Sastroamidjojo and Arnold Mononutu, the European political climate was experienced by many of the students as extraordinarily free. 26 There was no censorship in the metropole, the students were free to organise political meetings, and the political activists in PI had powerful friends in the form of communist and social democrat parties in parliament. Until 1925, the Dutch authorities in the Netherlands, in the person of the Raadsman voor Studeerenden, found it difficult to find a fitting answer to the vocal politics of the PI. Moreover, when things got too hot for the students, they could easily travel to other European cities to escape from the control of authorities. This free environment not only gave the students the chance to conduct free and open politics, but also provided them with the opportunity to come into contact with various political ideologies and streams. Not only did they engage in debates with communists, leftist revolutionaries and social democrats, also did they meet anticolonial activists in other European cities. From the second half of the 1920s onwards, the PI actively established contacts with other organisations to develop a broad community of colonised peoples. Paris was the gravitational centre of the foreign work of the PI, but they also met with Chinese, Indian, Algerian and Vietnamese activists in Brussels, Berlin and Zürich. It provided the students with new political concepts such as boycott, self-help and non-cooperation, but also 25 26

Anderson, Imagined Communities, 120-121. Robert van Neil, The emergence of the Modern Indonesian Elite (1960) 223.

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deepened their anti-Dutch stance to a broader anticolonial sentiment, as they saw that their struggle was not an exclusively Indonesian phenomenon but was shared with other colonial peoples in the world. 27 It is striking that all four factors were preceded by measures and policies of the colonial authorities that worked out differently than intended. Whether they attempted to separate agitators from their public through exile, to create loyal civil servants through education, or to tie young Indonesians more closely to the colonial project, their measures were dramatically counter-productive. This observation is in line with what Ulrike von Hirschhausen and Jörn Leonhard, concluded from their comparative research to colonial empires in general. 28

Long Distance Nationalism revisited This complex set of factors, to which other points can be added, helps to get a more balanced understanding of the unique political position of Indonesian nationalist students in the Netherlands, than the emphasis on European education alone. Moreover, it becomes clear that the concept of Long Distance Nationalism in the normative definition of Benedict Anderson is inadequate to understand the radical character of the group. Although Anderson provides us with other useful analytical tools to understand the political development of the Indonesians in the Netherlands, his denunciation of irresponsible and unaccountable forms of nationalism does not affect the Indonesian nationalists in the Netherlands. Applying normative terms in history writing is always problematic, but in the case of migrant groups even more so. In using qualifications such as irresponsibility and unaccountability, one needs to take into account that such judgements hit oppositional groups harder than institutionalised groups. Would Anderson call conservative Dutch groups irresponsible, when they donated money for missionary activities in the colony, or patriotic groups, when they supported colonial wars in words and deeds? Were Dutch parliamentary parties less unaccountable, when they supported tight security regulations in the Netherlands East Indies, than the Perhimpoenan Indonesia, when the latter argued against it? Also with regards to the Indonesian political landscape it would be strange to suggest that activists in Indonesia were more entitled to political activism, because they were in a more dangerous position than their expatriate comrades. Although it was undeniably true that the students 27

Klaas Stutje, ‘Indonesian Identities Abroad: International Engagement of Colonial Students in the Netherlands, 1908-1931’, BMGN : Low Countries Historical Review, 2013, Vol.128(1) (2013), pp.151-172. 28 Von Hirschhausen and Leonhard, ‘Beyond Rise, Decline and Fall’, 33.

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suffered less consequences from their political actions than fellow activists in Indonesia, who feared clamp-downs, arrests and even internments in prison camps, the students were nonetheless under tight security control. Moreover, they were well aware that their study loans, their future careers and those of their fathers were in danger. Although personal sacrifice is no prerequisite before engaging in politics, Indonesian nationalists in the Netherlands paid their dues. Also other aspects of Anderson’s conceptualisation of Long Distance Nationalism raise questions. Although the word ‘distance’ suggests geographical considerations on the effect of location, separation and distance on the evolution of nationalist thought, Anderson focusses exclusively on the mentality of the expatriate activists and on their relative safety with regards to their motherland. If we indeed narrow down ‘distance’ to a safe position with regards to a conflict, non-expatriate groups that nevertheless act from a safe environment are to be included as well, such as native elites in protected neighbourhoods, or business tycoons sponsoring armed conflicts in resource rich areas. For the Indonesian students in the Netherlands the concept of ‘distance’ needs to be interpreted in a broader sense, including the reduced distance to other oppositional forces such as international communism and anticolonial activism in Paris, Berlin and Brussels, the reduced distance to fellow students with a different regional backgrounds, and the perceived distance of the high educated students to ruling positions in the colony. A third problem in Anderson’s notion of Long Distance Nationalism is conceptual vagueness with regards to the influence of internet, email and other forms of virtual media. In itself it is praiseworthy that Anderson identified the ground-breaking possibilities of virtual communication in such an early stage, but also in his later reflections it remains unclear to what extent these hyper-modern manifestations of print-capitalism have fundamentally changed the character of extraterritorial nationalism.

Long Distance Nationalism 0.5 In order to be able to apply Long Distance Nationalism to the case of Indonesian nationalism in the 1920s, I propose to remove the emphasis on new forms of virtual mass-media, such as email communication, internet fora, and social media. In my view, these are the latest manifestations of the famous print capitalism of Imagined Communities, that makes it possible to envision communities on a more advanced scale, and to feel the simultaneity of events in what Walter Benjamin called ‘homogeneous, empty time’. Instead of confining Long Distance Nationalism to virtual communication, we should make it a central point of 12

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inquiry how communities gathered information and sustained contact with the motherland, and how these different media shaped and were shaped by manifestations of nationalism. It is important to stress, as Frederick Cooper recently did, that we should avoid the pitfall of ‘doing history backwards’, by seeing modern developments, such as the introduction of the internet, as the latest and most advanced version of long stretching developments. 29 Even in this ‘globalised present’ modern-day jihadi’s use the internet differently, than alter-globalists five years ago and Croat nationalists in Australia in the 1990s. Likewise, Indonesian students over time developed different means of communication and ways to gather news, influenced by expanding and narrowing horizons, stretching and tightening censorship laws and ever changing smuggling routes. 30 Secondly, I suggest that we remove the normative connotations of irresponsibility and unaccountability altogether, without ignoring that some forms of Long Distance Nationalism can be extraordinarily passionate and radical. Again, instead of condemning these types of nationalism, we should turn it into an open field of investigation if expatriate communities tend to be more fanatic, radical and passionate than domestic organisations, and, if so, under what circumstances. Is their political behaviour related to their migrant position in the receiving country, to their position vis-à-vis the motherland, or to the very experience of migration? In the case of Indonesian nationalists in the Netherlands it seems that their outspoken political behaviour was the outcome of a complex set of circumstances, that went beyond their relatively safe position in the struggle for national independence. Even though they enjoyed greater freedom in employing political activities than their fellow-activists back home, they also suffered from intimidation and persecution. One could even argue that for some students their ‘stained’ political record in the Netherlands prevented a retreat from politics once they returned to the Netherlands East Indies, because the colonial administration and European businesses refused to hire them. Thirdly, I think it could be particularly fruitful to examine the interplay between ‘distance’ and political affiliation. What does Anderson mean by ‘Long Distance’ other than mere separation or personalised globalisation? 31 Is Long Distance Nationalism something different than expatriate nationalism per se? In other words, is anticolonial nationalism as strong in neighbouring countries or countries within the same cultural sphere, as it is in Western Europe? To what extent, does the attitude of the authorities and public opinion in the 29

Frederick Cooper, Colonialism in Question. Theory, knowledge, history (Berkely, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press 2005) 105. 30 Cf. Idem, 109. 31 Cf. Idem, 10.

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receiving countries contribute to the felt sense of solidarity with the motherland? Does ‘distance’ only apply for geographical separateness, or are financial, social and political distance to power as frustrating to individuals as geographical distance or visa-related travelrestrictions? As my example of Indonesian activists in the Netherlands shows, the concept of ‘distance’ can be interpreted in a much broader way than as a geographical concept alone, while the essence of it – a feeling of separation – remains intact. In some aspects, distance was even reduced, for example between students from different parts of the colonial realm, or between Indonesian students and students from other colonial empires. When Frederick Cooper argues that the history of colonialism is above all the history of the reorganisation of space, of the forging and unforging of linkages, the Indonesian students could be taken as a point in case. 32 Finally, much work needs to be done in demarcating the concept of Long Distance Nationalism from other forms of political affinity with a faraway country, such as international solidarity campaigns, transnational networks of (NGO-)activism, cultural diasporic identity formations and political pan-movements. In other words, until what generation do we continue to speak about (group determined) Long Distance Nationalism, and when do we start to use the concept of (personally motivated) solidarity? Related to this, we also need to develop a trained eye for political divisions within expatriate communities, and connections across group boundaries. Politics can break bonds and create alliances. We have to recognise that the impact of being abroad does not affect all members of a group equally. While Social Movement Theory and Gender Studies have long defined ‘intersectionality’ as a useful concept to understand how social struggles interfere with each other, the concept of Long Distance Nationalism risks to reduce national liberation movements to the fanatical forms of themselves.

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Cooper, Colonialism in Question, 105.

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Indonesian nationalism out of place, Long Distance Nationalism 0.5

Conference Paper – Please, ask before quoting Indonesian nationalism out of place, Long Distance Nationalism 0.5 Paper Klaas Stutje, MA. University o...

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