The Search for Sensuous Geographies of Absence Indisch Mediation of Loss

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    Abstract

    This article explores how the descendants of migrants expelled from their originary homeland engage with geographies of loss, and how travel serves as an active process of mediation. My focus is on Indies (Indonesian-Dutch) migrants and their descendants living in the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, and the United States. Drawing on rich ethnographic material I explore how migrants' descendants associate colonial times and ancestral homelands with narrative strategies of exclusion and containment and tempo doeloe discourses (a nostalgic longing for the 'good old days') as generative of a collective victimhood. I seek to unravel how descendants explore agentic modalities of travel in order to reactivate, re-embody, and thus intervene in their families' and collective histories. The article analyses how affective experiences of places of and far beyond the geographical locations of the Dutch East Indies have a potential to invigorate embodied Indies sensibilities. Thus, I write towards a theory of intergenerational transmission and felt dispositions in relation to old, multiracial diasporas such as the Indies. I argue that searches for sensuous geographies of absence are a specific modality of genealogy work that serves as a vehicle through which to move across and among different times in order to destabilize postcolonial temporalities.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)473-503
    JournalBijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania)
    Volume170
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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