Dutch Colonial Nostalgia across Decolonisation


  • Paul Bijl


Cultural Memory, Nostalgia, Netherlands, Indonesia, Colonial History, Postcolonial History, Tempo Doeloe, Hein Buitenweg


This article argues that nostalgia for colonialism in the Netherlands, the so called tempo doeloe culture, is not a specifically postcolonial phenomenon caused by the collapse of the Dutch empire in Asia. In fact, nostalgia for the Dutch East Indies can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when the colony was still being formed, and its current form can productively be described as a nostalgia for nostalgia. On a more general level, colonial nostalgia, which is often too easily dismissed as simple conservatism, is actually a complex phenomenon in which multiple nostalgias layer each other in an often reflexive manner. This analysis focuses specifically on the work of the Dutch writer Hein Buitenweg (1893-1983).

Author Biography

Paul Bijl

Paulus Bijl teaches literature at the University of Amsterdam. He studied Dutch Literature and Comparative Literature in Amsterdam (VU University), Utrecht and Los Angeles (UCLA). He was a visiting research scholar at Columbia University in New York. His PhD thesis (Utrecht University, defended 2011) combined postcolonial, visual and memory studies and dealt with the social biography of two photographs of atrocity from colonial Indonesia in Dutch cultural remembrance. His research focuses on the cultural effects of colonialism in contemporary Europe. Recent publications include an article on the embodiment of colonial photography in the new photography journal Depth of Field. His book Emerging Memory: Photographs of Colonial Atrocity in Dutch Cultural Remembrance is forthcoming at Amsterdam University Press.




How to Cite

Bijl, P. (2013). Dutch Colonial Nostalgia across Decolonisation. Journal of Dutch Literature, 4(1). Retrieved from https://www.journalofdutchliterature.org/index.php/jdl/article/view/40