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The Eurasians of Indonesia: A Problem and Challenge in Colonial History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 August 2009

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Persons of mixed European and Asian parentage appeared in the Indonesian archipelago shortly after the arrival of the first “Westerners” in the sixteenth century. Although most of them were absorbed by the indigenous population, some were not and came to constitute a separate, identifiable group. The main reason, apart from paternal pride, seems to have been religious. Christianity, especially during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, encouraged a strong feeling of responsibility toward the biracial offspring of non-European women. A moral obligation was felt to baptize the child and give it the name of the father. Legal rules and regulations facilitated the process: the European father, for example, could “recognize” his natural child by a non-European woman, adopt it, or request a “Letter of legitimation”. Possession of “the status of European” in the nineteenth century permitted persons of mixed descent to benefit educationally from the rapid expansion of “European” (i.e. Dutch) schools. Finally, the Dutch nationality law of 1892 — based squarely on the jus sanguinis principle — contained the crucial provision that all those who were considered Europeans when the act came into force (July 1, 1893) — including those who were legally assimilated and socially a part of the European group — became Dutch citizens.

Research Article
Copyright © The National University of Singapore 1968

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35. This author estimated the number who elected Indonesian citizenship during the 1949–51 option period at 30–33,000, or about 20 per cent of the group at that particular time. See “Eurasian Dilemma in Indonesia,” The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. XX (11 1960), pp. 5660.Google Scholar