Haunted by 'Miscegenation': Gender, the White Australia Policy and the Construction of Indisch Family Narratives

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This paper traces complex negotiations of multiraciality in the context of transgenerational genealogy work in the wake of historical violence, genocide and colonialism. Basing the analysis on detailed ethnographic material about Indonesian-Dutch (Indisch) genealogy and memory work, I explore how the regulation of 'races' [sic] during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies and under the White Australia Policy employed genealogical charts to determine freedom from imprisonment and/or rights to full citizenship for Indisch individuals, and how these feature in the genealogy work of the children and grandchildren of those subjected to racial regulatory norms. Centring the analysis on a specific family history writing project, I demonstrate how such a project is haunted by the ghostly figures of historical 'miscegenation' - the Indonesian foremother, and the white woman who crosses lines of respectable white femininity by marrying an Indisch man. The paper explores how narrative strategies of exclusion are used differently across generations as a way of dealing with feelings of shame, guilt and secrecy produced by institutionalised racism, historical violence and imperialism. The paper argues that genealogy work operates not only as a vehicle for self-exploration and belonging for transnational families of historical diaspora, but is also central for the collective identity formation and the production of Indisch peoplehood.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)54-70
    JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
    Volume36
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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