Indonesians of Chinese Origin: Assimilation and the Goal of "One Nation-One People"

Indonesians of Chinese Origin: Assimilation and the Goal of "One Nation-One People"

Indonesians of Chinese Origin: Assimilation and the Goal of "One Nation-One People"

Indonesians of Chinese Origin: Assimilation and the Goal of "One Nation-One People"

Excerpt

The idea for this book began in 1980 when I paid my first visit to Indonesia. My last book on the overseas Chinese had been published only a few years before, and I was still vitally interested in this field of research. I met my first Indonesian Chinese in Sanur, Bali. Although an adult, he could speak no Chinese. This was quite outside my previous experience with Chinese in New Zealand and Fiji, where those over forty, and many under that age, could still speak the language of their ancestors. When he handed me his business-card, I read a fancy Javanese Sanskrit name. He had changed his name in 1966. He himself was part Javanese and his wife a Toraja Christian from Sulawesi. Yet under Indonesian law which was inherited from the Dutch, this man's children were also considered Chinese. Few racial features and nothing of Chinese culture remained. Subconsciously I was hooked. Three more trips to Indonesia followed, the last in 1985 when I spent my sabbatical there. In the interim I studied the Indonesian language and read virtually everything written in the field. When I arrived in Jakarta in February of 1985, I had some vague notion of writing a book along the lines of my previous books on the Chinese of New Zealand and Fiji. While the recent English language contributions in the field of the Indonesian Chinese are very fine works indeed, I felt the human aspect was missing in these studies.

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