Centering Dutch Indies Chinese from the Margins: On Nationality and Subjectness in an Era of Inter-Imperial Rivalry, ca. 1854-1930

  • LIU, Oiyan (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project examines the shaping and reconfiguration of nationality, subjectness, and race of an overseas Chinese community in times when Chinese expansionism, Western colonialism, and Japanese imperialism intersected in Southeast Asia.

By focusing on the Chinese under Dutch colonial rule the aims of this proposed project is two-fold. First, it will examine how Dutch Indies Chinese changed their status from being “stateless subjects” to becoming nationals and subjects of the Chinese, Dutch, and Japanese empires. Second, this project aims to help develop a novel paradigm to contextualize the study of Diaspora, Empires, and Nationality from the perspective of “inter-imperial rivalry” and "recurrences of diasporic temporality" within the study of the Chinese Diaspora. By studying the developments of Dutch Indies Chinese from 1854 to 1930 this study aims to identify the stimuli and processes of diasporization and un- diasporization within the context of competing empires. Such phenomena was, in the case of Dutch Indies Chinese, often temporal in nature. Research shows that the Dutch colonial government officially ‘racialized’ Dutch Indies Chinese by assigning people of both full and mixed Chinese descent into the racial category of “Chinese”. Despite that the Dutch colonized the Indies, the Dutch did not give Dutch Indies Chinese an official status of subjectness, however. Their perceived status as “stateless subjects” changed in 1893 when the first official petition to acknowledge overseas Chinese as being subjects of China was presented to the Qing court, which caused an increasing number of Dutch Indies Chinese to become ‘diasporized’. Their status was further solidified with the declaration of the Chinese nationality law. This project suggests that their change from being stateless to obtaining a national status became possible when empires were competing with one another for Dutch Indies Chinese support. The proposed project ends at circa 1930 when the significance of Dutch Indies Chinese voices for manoeuvring states’ policies began to decrease due to the Civil War between nationalists and communists in China, Japan’s intensified aggression of imperial expansion, and the rise of Indonesian nationalism during the waning days of the Dutch empire.

Effective start/end date1/01/2130/06/23


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