Class, race and being Indo (Eurasian) in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia

Rosalind Hewett

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This chapter presents a historical overview of Indos (Eurasians) in Indonesia, focusing on the 1930s to the present. It argues that framing Indo identity as ‘in-between’ racialized identities overlooks the complex legal, social and cultural identities of colonial and postcolonial Indonesia in which plural identities competed with each other and hierarchies – rather than binaries – of race, ethnicity and class determined social status. In the Netherlands Indies, popular understanding about Indos varied according to their legal status and class background. The Indo community with European status increasingly defined itself in class terms as European, and in racial terms as not Indonesian. In postcolonial Indonesia, popular understandings of Indo identity played out in Indonesian Sinetron (soap operas) draw on global hierarchies of mobility, wealth and cultural capital that in the popular imagination are attached to bule (‘Caucasian’) appearance, overlaid with the idea that Indos lack religious morals because of their foreign parentage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMixed Race in Asia: Past, Present and Future
    Editors Zarine L. Rocha, Farida Fozdar
    Place of PublicationLondon
    ISBN (Print)9781315270579
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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