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Marginality, morality, and the nationalist impulse: Papua, the Netherlands and Indonesia: a review article. Discussie over Een daad van vrije keuze

By R.E. Elson


P.J. Drooglever, Een daad van vrije keuze. De Papoea's van westelijk Nieuw-Guinea en de grenzen van het zelfbeschikkingsrecht (Amsterdam, Den Haag 2005).Marginality, morality, and the nationalist impulse: Papua, the Netherlands and Indonesia: a review articleDrooglever’s large and detailed analysis of the course of ‘West New Guinea problem’ demonstrates a mastery of sources and of the skills of synthesis, and will certainly become the definitive work on the subject.  The book may be read at many levels, as a story of Dutch imperial decline and diplomatic failure, of Indonesian powerlessness, and of Papuan victimhood, as the Dutch refused to concede New Guinea, attempted to develop an indigenous Papuan political capacity, and were finally overwhelmed by a combination of Indonesian determination and the changing circumstances of international politics.  The book’s greatest weakness, just like the post-war Dutch policy which is its subject, is its failure to appreciate the strength, depth and moral force of Indonesian nationalism, something reflected not only in the one-sided moral tone of the book, but also in its failure to analyse Indonesian sources and attitudes with sufficient seriousness

Topics: Geschiedenis, Decolonisation, Nationalism
Year: 2007
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