Netherlands New Guinea and the late empire builders Nederlands Nieuw-Guinea en de late empire builders

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After the transfer of sovereignty to Indonesia in December 1949, Papua West New Guinea remained in Dutch hands. The Dutch government had decided not to hand over New Guinea in order to create the possibility of a Dutch settlers colony, which could become a new homeland for the European Creoles, most of whom were anxious to leave Indonesia after its independence. Years of bickering between Indonesia and the Netherlands followed, resulting in a complete breach of diplomatic relations. There is abundant literature available on the diplomatic aspects of the struggle over New Guinea. This article makes an attempt to explain part of the convoluted history of this last remnant of Dutch colonialism in Asia as an outcome of the tensions and contradictions of late colonial society. On the one hand New Guinea was a project of civil servants to create a colonial development project, on the other hand it was the subject of dreams about a Dutch settlers colony in Asia. This article proposes to consider Dutch New Guinea as an example of late imperialism, comparable to European settlement in East Africa, the Portuguese colonies and Belgian Congo.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-25
JournalTijdschrift voor Sociale en Economische Geschiedenis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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