Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - The Politics of Imagining Creole Ancestry: Race and Interchanging Sino-Javanese Lineage Identities in Indonesia (1880s-1970s)

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

This paper examines the politics of genealogical imagination for the creolized Chinese elite in Dutch colonial and Indonesian Java between the 1880s and 1970s. Since the 1880s, the major cities of colonial Java witnessed the rise of Chinese surname-based lineage societies and ancestral halls. Drawing on a synthesis of the genealogical and lineage histories of the Dutch-appointed local Chinese political elites of the late colonial period, I argue that there was a convergence between the late colonial cultural policy that endorsed a diasporic conception of Chinese patriliny and the self-image of the Indies Chinese male elite as descendants of deep lineages originating out of classical Chinese times. The second part of the paper looks at how Chinese surname identities were submerged between the 1960s and 1990s when Chinese Indonesians were compelled to indigenize their names as part of Indonesia's assimilationist campaign. I examine the politics of genealogical imagination among two lineage groups (Thungs of West Java and Hans of East Java), who retraced their ancestry to their native aristocratic royalty. I argue that the lineage identities of the creole Chinese remained flexible as colonial and postcolonial discourses of race and status shifted over time.

Guo-Quan Seng

National University of Singapore, Singapore

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3 - The Politics of Imagining Creole Ancestry: Race and Interchanging Sino-Javanese Lineage Identities in Indonesia (1880s-1970s)



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