Historical Social Research

Peter Romijn: “Beyond the Horizon”: Disconnections in Indonesian War of Independence. [Abstract]

This article examines the transformative experiences of Dutch soldiers as they were transported overseas to fight in the Indonesian War of Independence, 1945-1949. It argues that both the onward and the homeward voyages were an essential part of preparing the soldiers for participation in an extremely violent conflict for an undefined period of time in a world they did not know. On their return journey, they were supposed to cope with fresh memories of the war they had participated in while at the same time, after two years or more, had to prepare to re-integrate into civilian life. In this respect, the experiences of the soldiers were connected to those of the European and Eurasian returnees, refugees, and postcolonial migrants transported to the metropole. The article describes the transformative collective experiences of the sea voyages lasting five to six weeks. It argues that these travels were intended, and functioned, to shape group identities. Aboard the ships, the collective outlooks were prepared in the framework of the mobilization of bodies and minds for the colonial war, and of demobilization after the war had been lost.

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