9.1 - len Ang ‘Trapped in Ambivalence Chinese lndonesians...

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Unformatted text preview: len Ang, ‘Trapped in Ambivalence: Chinese lndonesians, Victimhood and the Debris of History,” in Race, Panic and the Memory ofMigrarion, edited by Meaghan Morris and Brett de Bary. 21—48. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. COM MONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA Copyright Renuiations 1 969 This material has been reproduced and communicated to you i 1 Warning 1 by or on behalf of the University of Melbourne pursuant to Part lye of the Copyright Act 2968 (the Act). lThe material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further copying or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act. Do not remove this notice t Pameanct «rue, Memo 0 mt 457,-, flma/ d{ “7 W”? mnew: r TRAPPED IN AMBIVALENCE: _ _ CHINESE INDONESIANS, VICTIMHOOD, AND THE DEBRIS 0F HISTORY ‘ .. luv ANG . he unraveling of Western modernity-as the master narrative for universal human progress has prompted many peoples to put themselves ferward as victims of/in history ——. as having been wronged in the violentproces'ses of European colonialism and capitalistmodernization. Such claims to victimhood ' generally rely on the representation of previously untold historical narratives which _ can make sense of a particular people's real and imagined suffering, past and present. Often, the narrativization of victimization and victimhood on the public I stage marks an important moment of self-empowerment for previously subordinated or oppressed peoples, paving the way for efforts to redress. past I injustice and present disadvantage: the case of indigenous peoples in settler colonial societies such as Australia is exemplary here. But, in their very proliferation, discourses and narratives of victimhood can also have less desirable effects; net just in fact, or in moral or political terms, but because they fail to _ provide subjects in history with a complex and evenhanded sense of their own past, one that is appropriate for the Conditions of the present. One could argue, for example, that the obsessive Japanese collective memory of victimization as a result of the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is prdblematic not just because it represses Japan’s own history as perpetrators of violence, oppression, and injustice to other nations and peoples, especially in Asia; but also, in more practical political terms, because it inhibits an open and T-RACES : 2% honest reconciliation with old victims, who on their part have not forgotten their -. suffering at the hands of Japanese colonizers and refuse to forgive Without a ‘ proper sign of regret and remorse.‘ As Lisa Yoneyama has remarked, "Theactof _ remembering is always mediated by and inseparable from the positions that one _. establishes in relation to social and political arrangements, in bothEth’e-pr'esent- -_ and the future.”2 In a time when self-positionings as victims of history-have" proliferated throughout the 'world, accompanied by claims for apology and reparation to be paid by those who are accused of having committed the crimes againstthe victimized, it is not surprising that the accused often have great difficulty in dealing with their own past as "baddies”: they prefer not to be reminded of it, resorting to the commemoration of their own, real or imagined, vittimhoo'd _' instead.3 Victims, after all, have'clean hands, are subjects of virtue, and cannot- - be held responsible for any immoral acts. Discourses of victimhood; inother words, afford the luxury of the moral high ground. I I ' My starting point in this essay is not a critique of discourses of victimhood as such, nor a doubting of the real difference between "right" and “wrong.” Human ' history is full of distinguishable oppressors and oppressed, known killers and killed, recognized malefactors and their casualties — and there is no doubt that they all have to be recognized as such, in the context of the prevailing relations of domination and submission in which they operated. The problem; withan - .. unchecked cultivation of victim status, however, is practical: in theta-nary - j: simplification of the world between good and bad, and in their historical positiOning of the victim subject as a true "goodie," they generally fail to grasp the moral, as well as factual, complexity of h istory. identifying ourselvesexclus-ively as historical victims not only inhibits critical self-reflexivity (preventing us-from _. - recognizing the multiple and often tricky articulations ofio_ur.._hi_stor.i'cal' ' subjectivities, and not always under morally immaculate circumstances), but also constrains the creation of the conditions of possibility for reaching out,’ ' reconciliation, and coexistence, especially with those we feel rightly'or Wroneg ‘ victimized by. In this sense, the cultivation of positions of self-victimization could be said to work against the establishment of social and political arrangements I 7 which can help negotiate, if not Overcome, the violent divisions inherited from‘ the past, often to the detriment of the self—declared “victims” themselves as'they struggle to construct a livable present and future. " Such is the case, I will argue in this essay, with the group of people:_gein'eralliy-'-_ wraitces :2 Trapped in Ambivalence referred to as Chinese lndonesians or Indonesian Chinese (the conflation of these 7 two combinatory terms is itself, as we shali see, an indication of the problem I am setting out to explore here). I should say at the outset that my purpose here is not-to declare, from a god-like judgmental vantage point,.that Chinese Indonesians are or are not victims of/in history. My argument will be that we have to go beyond the discourse of victimhood and viCtimization .to come to a proper and properly sensitive understanding of the Chinese Indonesian predicament — past, present, and future. Writing this essay in 2000, I am afraidthat Chinese Indonesians are condemned to live with their predicament indefinitely, both in Indonesia and in diaspora — a predicament that can be characterized as being "trapped -in ambivalence.”4 It is a predicament which has beenéthe unintended, unvvilled, - and unwanted outcome of the "debris of contemporary history”5 for-Which there is, experts seem to agree, no imaginable “real” solution.6 This historical debris, I as I will elaborate below, arises out of the entangled confluence of the overlapping histories of European colonialism, competing nationalisms, and the process of decolonization, in. which Chinese Indonesians (or Indonesian Chinese) are neither unambiguous victims nor indisputable perpetrators. If anything, they areboth, aithough‘it is necessary, as I have suggested, to avioid compromising terms, such as "victims" and “perpetratOrs,” to fully grasp'the intricacies and the agony, moral I _ and otherwise, of the Chinese Indonesian predicament. In his book indonesian Chinese in Crisis, published in I 983, historian Charles Coppei has observed that "the Indonesian Chinese have been ...captives of their own situation and of their own history.” Coppei made this observation in light of the perilous minority status in which Indonesians of Chinese descent, currently ‘ estimated as about 34% of the population, or six-or seven million people, find themselves in the modern nation-state of indonesia. Their crisis, to refer to the title of Coppel’s book, is an enduring feature of Indonesian postcolonial history: people of Chinese descent have systematically been treated as second-class ' Citizens, and they are constantly referred to as "foreigners" or "aiiens," despite the fact that most Chinese Indonesian families have lived in the country for ‘ generations.They have regulariy been the target of mass violence, and anti-Chinese racism and prejudice are a pervasive part of everyday culture.a As Wang Gungwu has observed, referring to the first few decades after 1945, "For whatever understandable reasons, nowhere have more Overseas Chinese been killed or wounded, run away or been chased away, and been so insecure during the past TRACES : 2—j2_—T Ien An-g- ‘ twenty years than in Indonesia.”9 How has it come to all this? How can Chinese Indonesians explain their own wretched predicament to themselves? Most scholarly and political treatments of the position of the Chinese in Indonesia define the problem in narrow state-related terms such Citizenship rights, formal political loyalties, assimilation policies, and economic relations. HOWeVéi, as, - important as these issues are, they do not provide a thorough subjective" ‘ understanding of what it means to be Chinese Indonesian (or Indonesian Chinese) today. if Chinese Indonesians are to have a more culturally meaningful understanding of their -”crisis,” they would need a narrative identity-that goes beyond the disempoWering story of r’the Chinese problem,” as their situation has . officially been called by the Indonesian government. It is here, | suggest,.lthat it is- important to understand the Chinese Indonesian situation as being'ftrappedrin _ ambivalence. There is a long and cemplex history to be told, which canabe-traced back to the role theChinese played in the complexly oppressive divide—and-fule policies of the Dutch during their more than 300—year colonial rule,10 butrthe Indonesian Chinese have hardly come to terms with this fateful historical legacy- when it comes to defining who they are and where they are now. I suggest that it- is this lack of historical understanding which has left them, as Coppel perCeptively. - - observed, in captivity of their own situation and their oWn history — a 'captiVity which is easily experienced in terms of victimhood. Or to put it differently, precisely. ‘ because there does not seem to be an effective story through which Chinese Indonesians can make sense of themselves as a people with a particular, complex history, a clearheaded and honest story about why and how it is that they are deemed such a persistent “problem,” a paralyzing sense of being eternally victimized can emerge. ._ . I hasten to add that my own interest here is not that of the scholarly historian or the political activist. The history I am trying to recapture and re-present hereis to a significant extent a personal one: I was born into a Chinese Indonesian - family in the 19505 and lived in Indonesia until 1966. My parents deCidedtolget out of Indonesia precisely to escape the bad situation they were in: the harassment, the insecurity, the appalling social discrimination —— something I experienced _ , myself as a young child there. My personal family history has longbeenl-assource _' of bewilderment and anguish, deepened by a total inability to comprehend why) it was that we, an ordinary family living an ordinary life, were the object'of'such hostility. A profound sense of unjust victimization was thus a commode-motion} '_ Trapped in Ambivalence among people of my family background — a victimization for which there was apparently no clear, livable explanation, no story to tell except thrOugh the discourse ofvictimhood itself. The result is an intenselyconfused sense of identity, ' I a crippling sense of living in a perpetual impasse without knowing why. One - reason for me to write this essay, then, is to contribute to a softening of this quite- -'debilitating feeling of stalemate cenfusion. ' ' I would think that the suasion of this discourse of‘victir'nhood would be particularly strong amongst diasporic Indonesian Chinese {such as my family), fOr whom Indonesia is no longer a real place to. live in but an abstrad symbolic space associated with a traumatic past. Under such conditions, memories of hurt, frustration, and discrimination could easily become decontextualized and) obj-ectified in terms of overall and eternal victimization. Holding on to a singular victim identity would be much more difficult for those Chinese Indonesians who continue to live in Indonesia tothis day, as they are faced. with the challenge to negotiate the. full complexity of social life within Indonesia, in which they would " not survive if they were to see themselves merely as ultimately passive “victims.” " Still, that feelings of disempowerment are quite widespread among many Chinese in Indonesia in the 199.05 is amply suggested by research on their lived identities, for eXample by Mely Tan, who has reported on the general frustration and confusion among many about "feeling Indonesian, but being ofChinese origin” (the “but” connotes the strongly felt incommensurability here), of never feeling-entirely accepted, of always having to be on the alert.“ . l ' Recent developments in Indonesia suggest clearly that by the late 1990s, the basic paradigm of antagonism between "Chinese" and “Indonesian” has not. changed much since Wang’s observations aboutthe period after 1945 and the publication of Coppel’s book in 1983. When the Asian economic crisis hit Indonesia in 1997, news reports abounded about angry mobs who scapegoated ' the ethnic Chinese for the hardship of the populace in the 'wake of the crisis. In _‘early 1998, the world was informed about riots that broke out in many towns and villages across the country, always targeting Chinese-owned shops and businesses. .This culminated in a major, three-day rampage in the streets of Jakarta in May, during which, reportedly, about 1,200 people were killed.‘2 Many Chinese—owned ishops and businesses were looted and burned and, as became evident later, dozens of Chinese women were gang raped.13 “It is not surprising that these traumatic events have rekindled memories and wTRACES:2 TRACES:2-—12_T lie-n. 'Aiig 7 discourses of victimhood amongst people of Chinese descent inside and outside ' of Indonesia. i remember the chaos and distress sweeping across Indonesia after the violent failed coup of October “I 965, when at least half a million peo'pleiwere killed in riots and mass attacks on communists and people who were Otherwise targeted as culprits, many of whom were Chinese.” I was still living in Indonesia then, experiencing the event as a young girl, and I remember vividly how'anxious and fearful my parents were. During the I 998 eruption of mass violence, memories _ . of the earlier event circulated frantically. In diaspora in the Netherlands now, where my parents had decided to seek refuge after 1965, there was a bitter sense of being victimized yet again as a people, if not personally (for we were "lucky" not to live in Indonesia anymore).15 Indeed, as i have already remarked, the diasporic condition seems actually to intensify the feeling of victimhood,_;an__d I with it the hatred of the Indonesians who were inflicting it on “us.” Beingfa'way n I - from the scene ofvioience, fear, and trauma allows diasporans to absblutizétheir': abstract {if very heartfelt} sense of victimhood. in I998, such long-distance diasporic concern was massively amplifiedxbyj ‘ the expansive workings of the Internet."5 Here, however, the com mondenomin'ator' for the diasporic community is no longer a nationally specifi'cffChin'ese: Indonesi'anness,” but a presumably borderless, transnational “Ch’inesenessf”. Chinese diaspora websites such as Huaren (wwwhuaren.org),l7 for example, which has its base in California and was established in direct responseii‘o‘thé I crisis in Indonesia, quickly produced a dramatic outpouring of global Chinese solidarity with the brethren in IndOnesia.18 During the days of most furious rioting 7' in May the Huaren bulletin board functioned as a virtual space for calls-for help, _‘ rumors about new riots, eyewitness accounts, stories of pain and suffering, tips". on how to defend oneself, encouragements to fight back or advice on how _ where to flee, calls for all huaren (ethnic Chinese) in the world to protest and f' express solidarity, and rising anger about the pribumi {indigenous Indonesians)'."- " In the midst of the fear, despair, and anger, imaginary strategies to deal with the. whole situation were thrown up which signaled a desire to solve the problem once and for all. Some suggested organizing the exodus of all ethnic Chinese out of Indonesia to whatever country would be prepared to take them in. Others proposed the creation of a separate state for Indonesian Chinese, to create another “Singapore.” Some cast their hope-on China to become the strongest nation in the world. Still others wanted to see Indonesia completely bankrupt’rf'lnisuch' _ I I E—v—TRACES :2 1 Trapped in Ambivalence imagined futures, any c0nnection with “Indonesia/f and the possibility of living together with non—Chinese lndonesians, was given up. Even more moderate voices, those who still allowed some discursive space for the prospect of coexistence, tended to reproduce and feed on the dichotomy: To those responsible pribumi and indonesian politicians and.pribumi business people, you can not afford to sit and Wait for the current atrocities against Chinese to blow over and expect Chinese will-'fdfget about it. This time you are wrong. ...The-|ack of positive and responsibleactions in Indonesia despite continual urging and cry for help from the‘victims will only make the global Chinese communities more angry and united to intensify the campaign,19 ‘ t ' ‘ _' In the consternation and confusion expressed within the electronic diasporic 7 community, a history of the present was being written that relegated'lndonesia and the so-calied pribumi irrevocably to the realm of the Bad Other against which the Good Chinese Self has to defend itself — a Chinese Self defined in-absolutist ' "terms of innocent victimhood, at the passive reCeiving end of aggression and 'vioience. ' I But .what does such a discourse of self-vittimiZation achieve, apart from providing some therapeutic comfort to desperate, hurting souls? it is clear that , retreating into such a pure and untainted victim identity will not clarify or solve anything. On the contrary, for most Chinese Indonesians there is no‘other future than in Indonesia itself! In this essay I wish to take a step back and develop a - story that moves beyond the mutually exclusive binary of good and .bad, and beyond the fantasmatic recourse into "final solutions.” Instead, ! think it is 7 important to come to terms with the notion that we are, in a fundamentally irrevocable way, trapped in ambivalence. in this, I am guided-by Zygmunt Bauman’s ”postmodern wisdom” that “there are problems inhuman and social life with no good solutions, twisted trajectories that can ndt be straightened up, moral agonies which no reason—dictated recipes can soothe, let alone cure_."2° It is this more sobering, if ultimately saner, perspective on history that I wish to mobilize in the rest of this essay. My aim, to emphasize once more, is thus not to provide a more "objective" or “accurate” understanding of Chinese Indonesian history (I will borrow mainly from existing scholarly knowledge produced by specialist professional historians), but to revisit and re-present that history so as ,to help us to work through its complexities and ironies, its ambivalences, in more . (self-)critical and self-reflexive, and therefore more empowering ways.21 'TRACES : 2% 1- i ; a Postcolonial Nationalism and Its Discontents The-Chinese Indonesian sense of victim hood is generally rooted in their precarious experience of political and cultural marginalization within the IndoneSIan nation. Indeed, modern Indonesian nationalism has never managed to accommodate " successfully the presence of a Chinese minority in its 'constructionof airiational I i'maglned community.22 While the indonesian nation was from its inception imagined as a multiethnic entity — something which was necessary touriify- the: -. hundreds of ethnic and linguistic groupings making up the archipelago whose spatial boundaries were determined by the imposition of Dutch colonialism the place of those marked as "Chinese" in this "unity-inudiversity” has" alv'vays- I been resolutely ambiguous and uncertain. In most recent decades, the;Su,hart_o - regime (1966—1998) demanded that ethnic Chinese assimilate into mainstream" Indonesian society through name-changing policies, bans on the public display of Chinese cultural expression such as the use of Chinese language and Chinese New Year celebrations, and so on. At the same time, however, those of'Chinese I descent were always reminded of their categorical difference as the government insisted 'on differentiating between indigenous and nonindigenous groupsyfor example, by using special identity cards for ethnic Chinese. Here then a very contrary, if not cynical, politics of ambivalence is deployed by the Indonesian state: on the one hand, the Chinese were forced to delete all memories .7 migratory past and the traces of their cultural heritage, but on the other hand," they were prevented precisely from ever forgetting their nominal Chineseness. As a result, no matter how much they would comply and Indonesianlze themselves, they would never be able to become "true" or "real" 'lndOnesiansi' ' In this context, the recourse to identification with Chineseness rather-than- lndonesianness amongst some Indonesians of Chinese background-'is-Zajvery understandable response: it is a symbolic attempt to claim a vicarious"":hom'e’jf - where a secure sense of belonging to Indonesia has been thwarted. But staking a- claim to a belonging to the "'Chinese diaspora" poses its own problems, given that most Indonesian Chinese do not speak, read, or write any Chinese, no_longer have any connections with China (the imputed ancestral motherland), and have '7 very little active knowledge of Chinese cultural traditions, rituals, and practices}? i, Thus, for those who identify themselves as "Chinese Indonesian” or "IndoneSia'n. Chinese” +~ the very interchangeable use of the two reveals the uncertainty and: 2_—8_l—TRACES : 2 Trapped in Ambivalence ambivalence many have in locating themselves e the imaginary belonging to a vastand powerful "Chinese diaspora” can never pr0vide a satisfactory solution ‘ to the question of "home." Imagining oneself to be 'a member of the Chinese diaspora aligns one with a dispersed, deterritorialized community notionally bound together by an abstract sense of "racial" sameness and an equallyabstract sense of civilizational pride, but it does not relieve one from the difficulties involved in the very concrete, historically specific Condition of‘ occupying a. diasporic minority status in the social and political context of the Indonesian nation-state. Indeed, it is the very objectification. and hardening of the category "Chinese" that is part Of the problem rather thanrthe solution to "the Chinese problem” in indonesia. Through the absolutization of “Chineseness” as a separate and- ‘ monolithic identity, the "prdblem" itself is symbolically constructed and reproduced. m _ _ t It should be pointed out that who "the Chinese" are in Indonesia is not a question with a straightforward, objective answer. ThoSe of Chinese ancestry who ' live in the country are a very diverse group. An important distinction stemming from colonial times is often made between the more 'localiy rooted peranakan Chinese (who migrated many, many generations ago, intermarried with local women, and have adopted many local customs including the local language) ' and the more recently arrivedrtotok Chinese'(who have generally maintained their links with their ancestral village in China and are more generally still steeped in Chinese language and culture). A more recent, postcolonial distinction isthat between those ethnic Chinese who are Indonesian citizens and those who are ' not. While the latter distinction has been crucial for both government policy and for-Indonesian Chinese leaders, society at large generally does not use passport identities as markers of difference. Coppel therefore includes in his definition of Indonesian Chinese those "who are regarded as Chinese by indigenous Indonesians (at least in some circumstances) and given special treatment as a consequence."24 This definition thus includespeople who regard themselves as Indonesians and have refused to identify themselves in any sense with - "Chineseness," but whose notional Chinese characteristics (mostly physical appearance) still allow them to be labeled and treated as "Chinese." Thus, the borderline between "Chinese" and "non-Chinese" is not always clear; "the lndonesian Chinese” are neither an internally homogeneous nor a securely bounded category of people. As I will argue later,'understanding adequately how 'TRACES : 2—E "the Chinese” came to be historically solidified as a persistently problematic category in postcdlonial Indonesia — that is, to come to terms with its complicated ' and conflictive historical construction —- is crucial in any'engagementwith "race relations” in contemporary Indonesia. These relations have been severely damaged: by the May I 998 riots, but have had a much longer history going back to colonial times, a history which has left behind multiple traumatic memories-but'h‘asinbw'r.“I often been forgotten or disowned. ' Contemporary media acc0unts of "the Chinese problem” do not ge_neral_iy__ _ look very deeply into the historical context of its emergence. Instead, simplistic, : quasisociological accounts abound. In the wake of the 1998 crisis, forexa’rnple, international, mostly Western, newspaper reports repeated a narrative that-Axis ‘ 7' ‘ monotonous in its cOnstant reiteration of the following refrain: "The siernill-io'n Chinese make up only 3% of the t'Otal population of 200 mill-ion in Indonesia, - but they account for 70% of the country’s wealth.” The apparent obviousness 'of the “fact” provides the illusion of a simple, parsimonious “explanation”. for the whole crisis, a sense of immediate understanding that does not warrant anyfurther questioning. This does not mean that the “fact” is not “true” in some superficial empirical sense, but we all know that any “truth” is not only constructed, but 3 also produces a sense of reality that compresses and represses the intersecting _ power relations and complex historical contradictions that have worked ‘, generate it. What is particularly disturbing about the constant reiteration of this: “fact” is that its seductive simplicity will only serve to reinforce the way in whi_ch__ "the Chinese” are permanently locked into an antagonistic relationship with the pribumi (indigenous Indonesians), and with "Indonesia" more generally. To be sure, the “fact” reflects a common—sense truth shared and accepted throughout all layers of lndonesian society: that the Chinese are richer and more well off than the pribumr'. As a Chinese Indonesian myself, I have alwaysknown this truth for a fact: it was'the taken-for—granted experiential reality withinwjh‘ich" my family‘lived when we were still in Indonesia, and a statement I heard repeated} countless times after we left. Chinese-Indonesian common sense would have it that anti-Chinese sentiment amongst the majority Indonesians is to be blamed on jealousy, whereas many non-Chinese Indonesians routinely accuse the Chinese of arrogance and excl usiveness. The depth of feel ing that keeps the two‘categories apart cannot be overestimated: it pervades daily life and colors everyday social: interaction and experience to this day. I '- b '7 7' E—TRACES -. 2 Ien ‘A‘n g Trapped in Ambivalence Yenni Kwok, for example, an AsiaweekjournaliSt in hermid-twentiés and born and bred in Jakarta, told her readers how ‘she grew up without getting to' know any Indonesians of non—Chinese background. “For most Chinese,”she says, ' ‘ “the only pribumi they ever get to know is their household maid, their pembantu. Once they reach adulthood, there is almost no further social contact. Even"in -.professional life, the two groups rarely mingle.” She'also testifiesto the tacit sense of superiority that many ethnic Chinese have in relation _toth”eir non-Chinese fellow Indonesians: ' A I remember, when I was a youngster, asking my father why they [pribum'isl were referred to as fangui (l iterally "nee devils,” but meaning inferior). "We eat rice too,” I said. "So we're also fangui,’right.?” My father just smiled. It, _ was too difficult — and probably too embarrassing — to explain.25 l Kwok’s experience illustrates Only too clearly what is more or less common knowledge: the Chinese are (stereotyped as) the “haves” by most in ‘Indorresia, . and they often behave as such. ' ‘ ' ' I Accordingto Leo Suryadinata, a Singapore-based expert on the situation of 7‘ the Chinese in Southeast Asia, "some of Indonesia’s wealthiest citizens are Chinese, but most Chinese are not rich.”25 However, as an urban-based minority, they are a major component of the Indonesian middle class. Throughout the country they ‘ always have dominated commercial life and the retail trade. It misses the point here to suggest, as more Marxist-inclined analysts would do, that the "Chinese problem” in Indonesia is not one of "race,”but one of "class.”The problem is that in this context, "class" is lived in the modality of "race": Indonesia is an'intehsely racialized social formation, in which the Chinese/pribumr' distinction is generally read in terms of economic advantage/disadvantage. In other words, “‘Chineseness” in contemporary Indonesia does not connote primarily cultural identities, but . economic identities. It is this real and perceived economic divide that determines, in the first instance, the manner in which real and perceived cultural differences are transformed into social incompatibilities and antagonisms, both ideologically and in practice." A detour through history is necessary here to avoid simplistic, prejudicial explanations for how this came to be 50. From reading through the historical literature, it is clear that the current ethnic Chinese capacity to accumulate wealth ‘TRACES : 2% 32 ién "trig 'r: is inextricably linked to a long history of early regional commerce, European colonialism, and twentieth century capitalist modernization. Chinesemercha‘nts and traders have been active throughout Southeast Asia" long before the‘arrivaiisof- 7 the Europeans, but during the period of European colOnialism their roleta's an "entrepreneurial minority“ strengthened andbecame structural to the economic life of the region. Just like Jews in Central Europe, Chinese in Southeast Asia 7 played a crucial role in trade, 'money management, and capital accumulation_—_' commercial practices that instigated the slow but irrevocable reconfiguration of these disparate societies under the weight of the globalizing forces of capitalist modernity?‘5 Chinese merchants were indispensable buyers and sellers to the large European companies during the mercantile colonial period (which ranged from the mid-i 5005 up to the mid—1 7005 and was dominated first by Portuguese - and Spanish traders, and later Dutch and British monopoly trading companies),.' When the European colonial state expanded in the nineteenth century," ethnic Chinese became brokers mediating between the colonial powers and the natives, particularly in the system of tax farming for the collection of state reven_ues._ As Anthony Reid notes, “the Chinese tax farmer and his agents were the economic arms of government in rural areas” in colonial Java.29 As such, Chinesefgained access, to and mingled with the “natives,” but also, as a group, aroused-resentment,- especially as their demands on peasants for revenue increased. Duringthis-iperiod, ' ethnic Chinese communities grew in wealth and mobility, enjoying a s'ig'n'ifi'Cant ' autonomy while being essentially loyal to and working with the European, colonial order. As Reid puts it: “Colonial policies encouraged a division of'fun'cti'on, a dual economy, between the 'native’ majority of peasants, under their own, often. I anti-commercial, aristocratic-bureaucratic hierarchy, and the commercialsector .. of Europeans, Chinese, and other minorities.”0 Later, the legacy of this.dual_;' economy resulted in a relative lack of capitalist know-how, experience, and contacts among the “natives,“and as indigenous merchants had to fightiun‘equaiV battles with much stronger Chinese competitors, appeals to anti—Chinese sentiment ' received a popular hearing, and it was a major aspect of an emergent ln_donesian: nationalism in the early twentieth century. Thus, the anti—Chinese poplilis'm that ,still fuels today’s assaults on Chinese~ownecl shops and businesses has a long and deep-seated history. Trapped in Ambivalence _-Hi,st0ry’s Bitter lronies _ dispassionate understanding of this history is important here in order not to. recede-Linto an unproductive politics of blame, which is all too easy to do when one feels victimized. It is quite a common attitude among ethnic Chinese to commemorate this history as a means of blaming the divide-and-rulepolicies of he'fDutch colonizers for the current situation.‘An'cl indeed, one 03‘ the mainstays ofE-the colonial order‘was the legal classification of the Chinese as Foreign Orientals :vreemde oosterlingen), who were'placed in between Europeans, on the one hand, and the “natives,”on the other. Benedict Anderson makes this point very clear by emphasizing how it was the Dutch who created the “Chinese minority“ , the first place — a minority on whose support-and loyalty the colonizers could ly.31 The very category “ChineSE” was an imposed one to begin with, niot one. self-identification. As Anderson cynically remarks: “it was not until the 1890s hat .some Southeast Asian Chinese realized what _the Europeans had insisted upon-since the seVenteenth century 4- that they were, aprés tout, Chinese.”32 By “eveloping a separate jurisprudence for the “Chinese, “ who “were clearly unaware eing such, being unable to read Chinese characters and speaking mutually intelligible mainland languages if they spoke any non-indigenous language at . , “,3 the Dutch colonizers instituted an increasing segregation of the Chinese in etms'of legai status, required costuming and barbering, residence, pbssibility of' Tel, and so on. This apartheid strategy had a “fateful” effect, in Anderson’s '_ rds::““By the nineteenth century these policies had produced in Java 3 non- nese-speaking ethnic Chinese minority that increasingly was detached from 7. 'native coalition and hitched to Batavia’s wagon.”34 _.e implication here is that without colonial intervention, there would not Verbeen a “Chinese problem” in latter-day lndonesia: that the problem itself is ga‘cy of European coloniaiism. Such an interpretation does have some bility. One can, for example, as Anderson does, point to the smooth inflation of Chinese traders into the ruling class in Thailand or to the intimate between Chinese and Malays in precoloniai Malaya as indications that the pa‘ratism imposed by colonial ethnic politics was “unnatural.”Again, regarding elves-as victims is tempting here: it wasn’t our fault, we were forced to distance elves from the “natives.” Indeed, in my own experience blaming the Dutch TRACES : 2—E ‘ ‘ A'ii‘g ' especially those who are old enough to have known colonial time52-3But while accusatory geStures in the direction of the powerful Western Other may-produce short—term therapeutic effects or induce reassurances of one’s own:.ihh‘ocenc,e, they tend to explain away any sense of agency in the making of h'i‘sgto'r II £3;th it ‘ differently, what I think is important to acknowledge is that Chinese,'in_{the_ ,titch East Indies did actively contribute to the making of their own history, even'tho‘ugh they-didn’t have much control over the conditions in which that historyiwas being made. We have to recognize that many Chinese subjects, facedt'ttith'th‘e constraints'and limitations imposed on them by Dutch colonial rulefhegotiated a role and a livelihood for themselves which structurally positionedtzthem.‘i_n' a ‘ relation of power and tension vis-a-vis-the “natives.” They tookIuprL."_tlhe_ entrepreneurial challenges of early colonial modernity both becauseiitheyWere constrained from other economic activities (e.g., agriculture) and becaiise of their ' entrenched cultural orientation toward trading and commercialism. In the process they further developed the necessary capital, not only financial but also cultural, to place themselves favorably in relation to the changing requirements of modernizing society (terms such as “adaptability” and “flexibility” areoften used in_this context}?5 in the early twentieth century, when Dutch colonial governance was modernized and developed the preoccupations of a modern bureaucratic state,_ including mass education for its subjects, the Chinese responded-7 most vigorously to the new opportunities. They were in an advantageous 'poSi__ti'on‘:.to ' do this, so Reid suggests, because they were “the most urban, commerci_al,"and uprooted,”36 that is, positively predisposed towards the transformative requirements of modernity, in which formal education was increasingly-becoming- an indispensable asset forfuture success.37 This also meant, incidentally, thatthe cultural conditions were established early on in which ethnic Chinese'cbiildbe most successful in the quest for upward mobility that is the nameofthe’game' in life in the modern capitalist society of the post-World War Two’peiri_0d,fb'oth through business and through entry into the ranks of the professions. To this day, as is well known, ethnic Chinese throughout Southeast Asia have been able to seize on this advantage, an advantagethat has been historically inscribed in their very habitus, cultural orientation, and mode of subjectivity.38 I II " '5 The point of recounting this history here is to foreground hoW' in colonial times, the Chinese were not simply at the passive receiving end of oppreSSive _ and exploitative colonial “divide—and-rule” policies; those policies and their E—TRACES : 2 :hrfapped in Ambivalence vim active, if not opportunistic responses to them —. also placed the Chinese in I position of advantage and superiority vis-a—vis the "natives,”who were relegated tdithe bottom of the colonial hierarchy. After decolonization, this position of ' ' advantage and superiority did not simply go away, at least eCOnomically. Indeed, most Chinese businessmen became even better off economically after the end of the colonial era, at the expense both of the retreating Dutch (who until then had monopolized the most lucrative and powerful areas of economicactivity) and the indigenous Indonesians, who were far behind on the ladder of commercial advancement.” Postcolonial national government policies to change this situation tiften had unintended contrary consequences, as testified in President Sukarno’s j 1959 decision to ban Chinese small business fromirural areas to give pribumi - lridonesians control over trade in the villages. As a result, however, as 'Indonesian historian Ong Hok Ham has remarked, Chinese became even more urban and, ‘ consequently, even more economically dominant.“m Furthermore, it. is common khowledge that Suharto depended disproportionately 0n Chinese entrepreneurs ' to develop the national economy during his rule, and that ethnic Chinese on the whole benefited most handsomely from the increasing affluence and wealth during the NewOrder period._ A large number of the crony capitalists around Suharto were, in fact, ethnic Chinese“ — one Of the'rnost visible reasons for indigenous -_ Indonesian resentment against the Chinese as a group. _ 4 But if an unintended legacy of colonial rule has been a Chinese economic- advantage throughout SoutheastAsia, including Indonesia, the rise of anticolonial ' nationalism and the postcoloniai nation-state has left them more or less politically ' powerless. Indeed, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it was the end of .- ' colonialism and the arrival of Indonesian independence that dealt a decisive lol'owto the not fully satisfactory but relatively secure position of-the Chinese during colonial times: they were caught in the rapids of world-historical change Without knbwing adequately how to respond. Wang Gu'ngwu, for example, remarks about the peranakan Chinese in Indonesia, who were a large and active -- community before independence, that "they failed to adapt as a group” to _' Indonesian nationalism since 1945, without giving reasons for that failure.42 .. Anderson similarly alludes to how the Chinese “attempted frantically to adjust ' themselves to nationalist regimes” in post—independence SoutheastAsia without, however, giving up on maintaining powerful international connections I (particularly with China, Taiwan, or the West).43 In‘ Indonesia, many Chinese did TRACES : 2—E file n ' Arn- g not know whether to choose for the side of the Dutch colonizersor for the Indonesian nationalists during the struggle for independence. As Coppel putsit: "In the turmoil and uncertainty of the revolutionary period, a common reaction of the Chinese was a studied neutrality.”44 But this "studied neutrality” was, _ Understandably, considered tantamount to collaboration with the colohjiyzefsltby the lndonesians,.who were'fighting to liberate themselves from their 'Coppel cites a Chinese leader‘of that time who claimed that the Chinese inability to take sides was beyond their control (blaming it on the Dutch who didn't allow them to enter into full political life), not because of opportunism or fencesittin'g. _ But how could such doublemindedness be acceptable in the revolut' nary- ‘ lazy language of anticolonial nationalism that gained such momentumrirr‘i? decolonizing world? ' y _ _ _ The historical experience of the lndonesian Chinese points tda.?lac?una“iin muchcontemporary postcolonial theory, which is generally preoccupi'edlwith the binary relationship between the European colonizer and the indigenous “native,” without a serious eye on the distinct role and fate of those who Were caught in between.45 Coppel remarks in his historiographical study of the-Chinese 5 in Indonesia that “the dominant theme of Chinese political activity reinstate- - colonial period was to press for equality of status for the Chinese ’withithe- Europeans.”6 Very few Chinese in this period saw any benefit in forgingl'alliances with the “natives,” who were at the bottom of the oppressive colonial h‘ierarChy. ' I This element of complicity may be difficult to acknowledge, but it may be one. reason why the Chinese "failed to adapt” when decolonization became inevitable.— The fact is that it was the very ascendancy of liberatory, anticolonial nationalism which made it harder and harder for middleman minorities such as the lndonesian Chinese to find an effective political voice. As Daniel Chirot puts it: the rise of modern nationalism hardened attitudes toward those nervly viewed as outsiders. Entrepreneurial minorities, previously seen‘asf-juSt' air-e; more among many specialized ethnic and religious groups that e'Xisted in most complex, premodern agrarian societies, now became, in the eyes of the new nationalists, something considerably more threaten.ing.,47__ . Thus, while during the colonial period the emergent 1ndonesianlnatiohalisrn' was not in general directed against the Chinese but against foreignhl‘iui'opea'n _ ETRACES : 2 'Irapped in I Ambivalence 'rL'ile,‘ after independence, when the postcolonial nation-state was established, , the presence of Chinese increasingly posed a problem in the process of new nation building. As a result, in Wang Gungwu’s'observation, the’Chinese in- _' indonesia, as elsewhere in Southeast Asia (except Singapore) were condemned to'the ambivalent role of "being an instrument of economic growth without either political ambition or social respectability”.48 But there is a further, crucial historical irony, which prEfigur'es a later tragedy. In colonial Indonesia, nationaiist awakening occurred earlier among the Chinese than among the “natives.” But most-Chinese rallied behind a Chinese nationalism, tame Eoriented towards China, not Indonesia.” The Chinese revolution of 1911' strengly emboldened Chinese pride and faith in China’s power to challenge - .ELIiiopean hegemony. Many local Chinese who had “lost” their Chineseness (i.e._, the peranaléans) began to resinicize themselves, at leasspartially (e.g., by learning I‘ the language, sending their children to Chinesel'schools, and so on), encouraged by nationalist Chinese scholars and, professionals and some local community leaders, as well as the Chinese government. In the 19205 and 305, pan-Chinese nationalism (which is a striking early manifestation-of organized Chinese dlaSpOI‘lC activity) was booming, and political activism in colonial Indonesia became increasingly polarized along racial lines.50 Is it surprising, then, that at alater stage, when the “natives” mobilized themselves, they didn’t rush to'invite the _ Chinese into their ranks?51 Postindependence efforts by Indonesia—oriented Chinese’leaders to be fully accepted into the syncretic national community'of ‘ "Indonesia" have always had to struggle against the legacy of separateness reinforced by the competing force of Chinese nationalism. As Suryadina‘ta puts it, "the Indonesian nationalist movement, having emerged after overseas Chinese nationalism in java, understandably tended to exclude the Chinese from the movement.”52 ‘ 7 ‘ ' How then can we make sense of this disturbing history? How is this past still relevant, if at all, to the present? Again, it is not a matter. of guilt and blame here. Rather, what is important is to recognize the convolution of historical entanglements, not in order to point fingers at goodies and baddies, but to understand how subjects in history leave legacies that become the conditions Within""which future generations must make their own histories. l n a structural sense, it needs to be underlined that the emergence of modern nationalism in colonial lndonesia has solidified the distinction between the “indigenous” and T‘RACES : 2—K iaasxsg the "nonindigenous" — a distinction that continues to frame ethnic. relations ih ' indonesia today. As Takashi Shiraishi has remarked, “the rise of modern politics...signified the ’awakening’ of the Chinese as Chinese and of ’riative's’ 'as ' natives.”3 Postcolonial Indonesia inherited this state of affairs, and is its legacy to this day. y H _ As modern nationalism involves in principle a practice of constructing a’unified peoplehood, the question of who does and who does not belong to the Indonesian .' I people is centraltothe operation of the Indonesian nation-state. Thus, 'While' ethnic Chinese people during colonial rule were not in general concerned about the formality of their national belonging — such a concern being a feature of full- fledged political modernity which simply didn’t apply on colonial territory54 — after decolonization those who chose or were forced to stay in Indonesia-were faced with the necessity to declare formal loyalty to the new nation—state; now under control of “the natives.“ in other words, ethnic Chinese subjects were placed - in the quandary of having to take on, formally, a singular, bounded, and exclusive national identity: in termsyof nationality, they had to become either Indonesian or Chinese. Being both was a blemish in the hegemonic logic cit-competing," mutualiy exclusive nationalisms, which both the Chinese andindonesian- governments took years to resolve'fl This very logic stiIl informs :thelfijn‘darfnental felt incommensurability of “Chinese” and “Indonesian” in the cUlt'ural imaginary of the new nation. As a result, even those ethnic Chinese who arei'lndohesiah ' citizens always remain under suspicion that their loyalty might not be undivided — the trace of their Ch ineseness (mostly read off their faces) always read as a of imperfect national belonging, as not quite Indonesian. ' ' I Diaspora: The Transnational Solution? By the late 19905, theruncomfort‘able position of Chinese Indonesians-on the inside/outside borderline of the nation had become an entrenched and virtually taken for granted aspect Of Indonesian life. In this light, the eruption ofanti- Chinese riots in May 1998 was only the most visible and explicit confirmationfof a long—term and deep—seated antagonism, which, as I have tried to show above, goes back much further than the socially discriminatory policies of the Suharto years. Perhaps it is precisely because the riots were so devastating, on the one Trapped in Ambivalence hand, and so fitting into an historically familiar pattern, on the ether, that the sense of victimization has been so intense. As prominent ethnic Chinese businessman Sofjan Wanandi said, “Never before have the Chinese felt so totally ' hopeless and unprotected.”56 This is the feeling of a people who see no way out r_. of their abject predicament H— trapped in ambivalence. My interrogation of history above will not relieve anyone from the acute sense of despair, on the contrary. But it may provide us with a greater insight into how the impasse of the present came-to be. This history is replete with what Dipesh Chakrabarty wishes to highlight in the representation of the postcolonial history of modernity: “the ambivalences, contradictions,.th_e uses of force, and the tragedies and the ironies that attend it.”57 Most poignantly, we must come to- , terms with the messy fact that the very construct of the “Chinese in Indonesia” is :intimately entangled with the historical emergence of “Indonesia” itself, which inturn cannot be separated from the global history of modernity. , What has become the “Chinese problem” in modern Indonesia is intrinsically I“ “bound up with the relentless, uncompromising, and ever more all-embracing forces of capitalist modernization, on the one hand, in which ethnicChinese a dominant role, .and the antagon‘ismsand dependencies emanating from :thecreation of the modern postcolonial nation-state, onthe other, in which ethnic E'Chihese find themselves politically and culturally disempowered. It is one of the.- contradictions of modernity that no one really knows how to solve this “problem.” The dominant ideology, embraced both by the national government and by _.i_mportant representatives of Chinese—Indonesian community leaders}? has advocated complete assimilation, but it is clear- that the planned absorption of- the Chinese minority into the Indonesian majority and the eventual disappearanCe of the distinctive presence of Chineseness in the fabric of Indonesian society ~— which is the abiding desire behind the modern idea of nationalist assimilation —— is an impossible strategy, one that is bound togfail. Indeed, as Ariel Heryanto has argued, the very emphasis on the need to assimilate the Chinese — a need which was proclaimed loudly by Suharto’s New Order regime but is aISO insisted upon "by many Chinese Indonesians themselves —— tends to reinforce “the active and conscious othering of the Chinese” in “the reproduction of the native Self.”9 In other words, the very process of assimilation ensures that Chinese Indonesians remain trapped in the ambivalence of (non)belonging that the rhetoric of assimilation purports to resolve.60 ' ETTMCESHZ rimming—{E 7 The irony remains, however, that Indonesia to a large extent_.,dependson its ’I _ ethnic Chinese population if it is to continue on its road of economic d velopment ' ‘ '-«- a goal “third-world“ nation-states simply cannot renounce; I {ti-aniopf anticapitalist, ant-ineocolonial resistance.61 Indeed, it is not surprisingathatbne of the first things the newly elected President Abdurrahman Wahid'di'd Qotober ' 1999 was to call on his Chinese Indonesian fellow citizens who left'the’COUntry ' ' a year before to come “home” and bring back the capital that they ha‘d..taken with them in their flight after the May 1998 riotsF’2 H I In this context, it is unnerving to note that prospects for a softeningoff-fthe Chinese ptoblem“ have generally remained cast firmly within theiievolutiona'r-y framework of modern capitalist “progress.”Thus, in the mid-1 990s Ariel .Heryanto . saw a positive step in the growth of a broad-based middle class: “a‘ 'fnu-lti-ethnic capitalist class is...in active formation, economically and politically. "Although this class remains far from anything near hegemony over Indonesian life, its very formation has helped soften old racial antagonisms.“"3,And writing one year before the i998 crisis, Linda i_im and Peter Gosling fastened their hOpe partly on “the centinued trickle-down effect from Indonesia’s rapid economic growth,.to which the Chinese business community and the Suharto regime have positively contributed.“64 What such projections do not account for, however, is that capitalism is a deeply contradictory and unpredictable eco_no:mic--_system, underscored by the Asia-wide economic crisis which was the trigger ifor',-the renewed flaring up of anti-Chinese mob violence. Indeed, the symbolism of'the' May 1998 violence suggests that the anger of the urban poor, from whose ranks the rioters were recruited, was to a large extent aimed at the cultural-"icons of I affluent middle-class lifestyles. As one commentator observes, th‘e's'eyoungguiiban poor are not only anti—Chinese, but are alienated by the entire missing-eeahqmy from which they have been increasingly excluded: “They take-itoiiton the inaccessible symbols of the new rich — banks, automatic tellet3_'rnachin‘es,, supermarkets, car showrooms, hotels, the cars of the Chinese. The retai l'revolution ' " that is sweeping Indonesia has repeatedly angered those whose livelihoods remain dependent on more traditional markets, which were not nearly as-badl'yfaffected [during the riots].’,’5f5 In other words, modern capitalist “progress” has profoundly contradictory effects: on the one hand, the creation of a multi—ethn‘icfmiddle - class and the trickle-down effect serves to ease ethnic tensions, but onatheiother 1 hand, capitalism’s inevitable production of a marginalized underclassonly SerVes to strengthen the traditional equation of “the Chinese“ with economic privilege. ETTRACESV: 2 I' Trapped in Ambivalence To this we should add another, troublingly complicating factOr. As thetwentieth '7 : Century has drawn to an end, capitalist modernity has become such a globalizing force that it poses the single most formidable threat to developing nation-states ;;_.and to national control over economic life.“6 It is well known that in the Asia Pacific it is precisely ethnic Chinese family conglomerates such as the “Salim group, headed by Indonesian—Chinese businessmanjLiem‘ 'Sioe Liong,“ who have been at the forefront of transnational capitalist development and of the spectacular success of the “dragons” and “tigers” in the past fewdecades,drawmg on Chinese business networks and contacts throughout the region. This development has led ' to the rise of what Aihwa Ong and Donald Nonini call “modern Chinese transnationalism,“EB a highly fluid, mobile andi'flexible economic, social, and. " - cultural formation that explicitly evades, transcends, and subverts the territorialized fixities of the nation-state. It is not surprising, however, that the rising power of this hypercapitalist and ultraprofitable Chinese transnationalismhas only raised ‘ lingering accusations of Chinese greed and lack of “loyalty”? ‘ F ' The recent emergence of an invigorated, increasingly assertive, global Chinese diaspora —'as expressed by the H-uaren website I mentioned earlier ennly adds to the ambivalent situation of indonesianChinese. On the one hand the diaspora promotes “Chinese“ as a sign of strength and power, on the other hand this very assertion fuels resonances with an earlier, Chinese nationalist tendency to bind '7 all scattered Chinese to a single notion of “China” and away from their land of residence.70 For some Chinese Indonesians redefining themselves as cosmopolitan" transnationals may be an imaginary solution to their predicament, but this will come at the cost of a further real and perceived disengagement from the Indonesian nation. For example, an increasing number of well-to-do Chinese IndOnesian families decide to have their children learn Mandarin as an investment in their economic future. This is read as a sign of resinicization by many indigenous indones'ians which is regarded as detrimental to the objective of full assimilation.71 The trouble is that the high profile of the transnational ChineSe business elite, stirred up by Western media and commentators,” and the more general diasporic 7 emphasis on transnational Chineseness, tend to lead to an overemphasis on the mobility of ethnic Chinese, on the alleged looseness of their connection to the nation-states in which they reside. The majority of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, however, are profoundly anchored in the locales where they live and work, and their existence is deeply territorialized, determined by and dependent on TRACES: 2—E _. Ien Ang economic, political, and ideological forces (many of them transnational, to be sure) which shape social relations within the nation. It is for this reason that, as a group, Indonesian Chinese cannot yet give up the struggle for their full inclusion in the national-imagined community of “Indonesia.” Indeed, in the wal<efof the May 1998 riots, political consciousness among Chinese Indonesians 'i-s'tobe' growing, and the realization that something needs to be done to overco ethefi - 3 "problem" is becoming widespread across the nation.73 As Yenni Kwok, the Asiaweek j_ournalist,-reports: "it may take years to change [antidiscriminationl laws and longer to alter deep—seated prejudices. Nevertheless, someth_ingfisStir_ring ,7 ‘_ " among younger Chinese, who want people to know that they arejustia' | ' as anybody else.”4 formulated this way, however, it is clear , _ assimilation still haunts ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: their desire‘tollbe'lijujs : anybody else” is induced precisely by the persistent perception — reinforcedln. myriad ways by actual practices of (self)distinction within and beyond the nation -—_ that they are not. How can they deal with the fact that as they ceaserdefining' themselves through the discourse of victimhood, they will not cease being'trapped , in ambivalence? How can they come to terms with the fact that thevery sign of 7 that ambivalence is "Chineseness"? ENDNOTES ‘ See, e.g., Lisa Yoneyama, Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space and the Dialectics of Memory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999). _ I. . 7 Lisa Yoneyama, “Critical Warps: Facticity,Transformative Knowledge, and Postnationalist Criticism in the Smithsonian Controversy,” positions east asia cultures critique, 5, no. 3 (1997): 780. - Examples are the Afrikaners of Sauth Africa, who as "the white tribe of Africa" strive to commemorate their own suffering at the hands of British colonizers, or-white Australians whose OWn narratives of victimization on the harsh Australian land complicate their acknowledgement of Aboriginal oppression. Jenny cle Reuck, "A Politics of Blood The 2 ‘White Tribe’ of Africa and the Recombinant Nationalism of a Colonising I_nc,ligen.e,-_’-’; :- .CriticalArts. A JIournal of Cultural Studies, 10, no. 2 (1996):139—157,‘ Ann CUrthOys,‘ "Expulsion, Exodus and Exile in WhiteAustralian Historical Mythology,” Journal of Australian Studies, 61, December 1999. andAmbivalence (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991). 5 Aihwa Ong and Donald Nonini, Ungrounded Empires: The Cultural.Politics‘olilvlocl'e-rh.L t 1 Chinese Transnationalism (London: Routledge, 1997), 330. _5 See, e.g., Mely C. Tan, "The Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Issues of ‘- E——TRACES : 2 I derive this notion of "trapped in ambivalence” from Zygmunt Baumanifflvlodérnlty Trapped in Ambivalence 7 Chinese as Southeast Asians, ed. Leo Suryadinata (Singapore: Institute of Sontheast Asian Studies, 1997), 33—65. ' ‘- Charles Coppel, lndonesian Chinese in Crisis(Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, I 983), I 71. - .. ' For a detailed and thorough analysis of anti-Chinese violence in postwar Indonesia, ' seeJ.A. C. Mackie, "Anti-Chinese Outbreaks in Indonesia, 1959—1968,”in The Chinese 'in indonesia, ed. J. A. C. Mackie (Honolulu:The University Press of Hawaii in association 10‘ with The Australian Institute of international Affairs, 1976'), 77—138., ' ‘ . . Wang Gungwu, "Are Indonesian Chinese Unique? Some Observations” in The Chinese in lnclonesia, ed. J. A. C. Mackle, 204. l I . - TheDutch colonization of what came to be called the Dutch East Indies began in the ‘ V seventeenth century (when Dutch mercantile capitalists established Batavia, today’s Jilirnationalists declared the new postcolonial nation’s'independence. The Dutch only‘ accepted the loss of their colbny in 1949, after a fo'ur-year-long, bloody war of ii 1.2 Jakarta, as their trade center in 1-619) and ended in 1945, when the Indonesian independence. M Mely Ci. Tan, "The Ethnic Chinese in Indonesia: Issues of Identity.” _ It is important to stress that not all of those killed were Chinese. Many non-Chinese ‘ . looters were killed as well during the violence. While this eruption of collective violence '_ has been widely designated as "anti-Chinese riots,” it is important to note that there is ' ' clear evidence that sections ofthe Indonesian military had a hand in fuelling the “riots.” 13 14' In this respect, one commentator has described the May 1998 violence as "racialized state terrorism.” Ariel 'Heryanto, "Flaws. of riot media coverage,” The Jakarta Post, 15 July 1998. ' r ‘ _ ‘ ' For an analysis of the complex politics of these,.what the author calls, political rapes, see Ariel Heryanto, "Race, Rape and Reporting,” in Reformasi. Crisis and Change in' lndonésia, ed. Arief Budiman, Barbara Hatley, and Damien Kingsbury (Melbourne: Monash Asia Institute, 1999), 299—334. ' According to official history, the coup was masterminded by the then very large Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and supported by the communist regime in Beijing..- The mass killings were mostly targeted at communists, not Chinese, although the association of communism with the People’s Republic of China did create an atmosphere of suspicion against Chinese. According to Coppel (Indonesian Chinese in Crisis, 58), however, "kil lings of the Chinese because they were Chinese were more sporadic and less systematic.’r Around the time of the 1998 riots and attacks, diasporic-Chinese 15 ‘memory often blurred the distinction between communists and Chinese, (mi5)remembering the 1965/1966 killings as mostly anti-Chinese. There is a small Chinese Indonesian diasporic community in the Netherlands, mostly ' ' comprised of people of my parents' generation (and-their offspring) who left Indonesia II 3 around the 1965 coup. ‘ is The resonance here is with what Benedict Anderson has dubbed "long-distance " nationalism.” Anderson points to the fact that many destructive, extremist causes in i'--"third and second world nation-states (e.g., India, Sri Lanka, Croatia) have been supported TRACES : 2—E 17 1B 19 20 21 .22 23 24 25 26 2? 25 29 3D 31 32 I 33 34 35 lien A-ng _ by diasporan migrants in Europe, North America, and Australasia (e.g., through the, ' financing of weapons, the spread of extreme nationalist ideologies, the runnlingl'oi websites, and so on), BenedictAnderson, "Long-distance nat_ionalism,”in his The Spectre of Comparisons. Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998) "Huaren” is the generic pinyin transliteration for the word-“Chinese.” r, . - I provide a more detailed analysis of the politiCS of Huaren in "indonesia on my mind,” chapter 3 in my book On Not Speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West ' (London: Routledge, 2001). _ _ "Decent pribumi should control those mobs before they drive lndonesia deeper-into ground,”Bul|etin Board, 27 May 1998, <www.huaren.org>. Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 245. See Yoneyama, "Critical Warps,”786. Yoneyama relies on the work of Dominick LaCapra to discuss the ritual role of the historian in the working through of historical trauma. For historical accounts of the position of the Chinese minority in the lndonesian-nation-‘ state, see, e. g., Leo Suryadinata, Pribumi lndonesians, the Chinese Minority and: China (Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann, 1975); J. A. C. Mackie, ed., The Chinese in lndonesiatsee note 8 above); Charles Coppel, lndonesian Chinese in Crisis (see note'7 abidveiizi'"? i have critiqued essentialist andlorganicist notions of "Chineseness" elsewhere. See Ien Ang, "On Not Speaking Chinese,” New Formations 24 (1 994), 1-1 8; {'Can One Say No to Chinesenessi,” boundary 2, 25 no. 3 (1988): 223—242. Both essays a‘re'Ireprinted in my book On Not Speaking Chinese. Coppel, lndonesian Chinese in Crisis, 5. Yenni Kwok, "How _ln_donesian Am i?” Asiaweek, 25 May 1998. LeoSuryadinata, "'Quo Vadis, lndonesian Chinese?” The Straits Time'sgéSi.Eebr'uaty' i: 1998 (reproduced in Current Focus, <www.huaren.org>). I _ 3 - . For the theoretical formulation of the economic as determinant in the first,"r'iot last, instance, see Stuart Hall, "The problem of ideology: marxism without guarantees/in Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues, ed. David Morley and Kuan-Hsing Chen._(London:I Routiedge, 1996), 25—46. .- ._ For a comparison between Jews and Chinese as entrepreneurial minorities, see Daniel Chirot and Anthony Reid, ed. Essential Outsiders. Chinese and jews in-the. Modem 7 Transformation of Southeast Asia and Central Europe (Seattle and London:,LIl.niver,si_ty ; of Washington Press, 1997). _ i I Reid, "Entrepreneurial Minorities, Nationalism and the State,” in Essential Outsiders, ed. Chirot and Reid, 45‘. ‘ 7' Reid, 54. r Benedict Anderson, "Majorit-ies and Minorities,” in his The Spectre of Comparisons, 318—330. -' ' lbid., 323. lbid., 321. lbid., 321. E.g., Daniel Chirot, "Conflicting identities and the Dangers of Communalism,” in Essential Outsiders, ed. Chirot and Reid, 25. l " 2E}+——JRACE5:2 Trapped in Ambivalence .36 37 38 39 40 41 "Reid, 50. r . . The issue of education was one of the focai points of Chinese political activism in colonial Indonesia from the first decade of the twentieth century onwards. .The literature on whether or not there is a peculiarly/’Chinese capitalism” based on ‘ ‘ reified Confucian values is huge. For a critique, see, e.g., Arif Dirlik, "Critical Reflections on ’Chinese capitalism’ as paradigm,” in South China: State Culture and Social Change During the 20th Century, ed. Leo Douw and Peter Post (Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy ofArts and Sciences, 1996). . ‘ I_ II __ . . J. A. C. Mackie and Charles Coppel, "A Preliminary Survey,” in The Chinese-in lndonesia, ed. Mackie, 13. I - _ Quoted in John Colmey, "The Eternally Blamed,”in Time Magazine (Asia), 4 51, no. 7, 23 February 1998 (reproduced in Current Focus, <www.huaren.org>). _ Anderson, "Sauve Qui Peut,” in his The Spectre of Comparisons, 304. Anderson {315) -_adds that Suharto deployed his own divide andimpera system by encouraging the ' "Chinese minority to concentrate exclusively on business, whiie the'indigenous as 43 44 “if Fora discussion on these issues, see, e.g., Cyan Prakash, ed. After Colonialism. imperial lndonesian elite wouid concentrate on political power. w Wang, "’Are lndonesian Chinese Unique?,”207. .. - 1 Anderson, "Majorities and Minorities,” 323. " I ' — _ .Charies Coppel, "Patterns of Chinese Political Activity in Indonesia,” in The Chinese in lndonesia, ed. Mackie, 41. . - Histories and Postcolonial Displacements(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). 46 47 43 49 II Coppel, lndonesian Chinese in Crisis, 15. The Chinese demand to be granted the formal status of Europeans was' inspired by the fact that the Japanese had managed to acquire such a privileged statusin 1899, ' Chirot, j’Conflicting Identities,” 8. I Wang Gungwu, "Are the Indonesian Chinese Unique?,”209. Lea Williams, Overseas Chinese Nationalism (Glencoe, “L: the Free Press, 1960); _ Stephen Fitzgerald, China and the Overseas Chinese (Cambridge: Cambridge'University ' 7 Press, 1975). . 50 5| '52 53 n For the complex patterns of political activity among lndonesian Chinese before and after lndonesian independence, see Coppel, "Patterns of Chinese Political Activity in ~ Indonesia.” The. inclusionary/exclusionary limits of Indonesian nationalism are also of relevance here. According to Coppel ("Patterns,” 36) most Indonesian nationalists in the pre- independence period were ambivalent about their acceptance of nonindigenous people in their movement. Leo Suryadinata, “introduction,” in Political Thinking of the lndonesian Chinese 1900— 1977. A Sourcebook, ed. Leo Suryadinata (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1 979), XV. ' Takashi Shiraishi. "Anti~Sinicism injava’s New Order,”in Essential Outsiders, ed. Chirot and Reid, 205. in colonial times all inhabitants ofthe colony were "Dutch subjects, ”with no citizenship TRAces:2———4:§: {fl A rights in the modern, nationalist sense of that word. Some Chinese p0liticajlfiiganizatiens did campaign against'their secondary status as Dutch subjects (Nelderlandsch .Onderdaanschap); see Leo Suryadinata, Peranakan Chinese Politicsin‘ljja : 4;? 942 , (Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1981), chapter 2._- i -. ‘ ._ I _ . 55 The Chinese government, through the principle of jus sanguinis, in 190.9 _ armada“ ‘ people of Chinese descent as citizens of China, regardless of birthplace and'countryior - residence. In response, the Dutch colonial government introduced a ‘natioh'ality'law' on the principle ofjus soli, according to which all persons born in the colony wOUId be Dutch subjects.The Indonesian government inherited the resulting ”dual-.nationa|i_ty‘.'_ problem, which was not resolved through negotiations with the Chinesegovernment ‘ until 1962‘, when all Chinese with dual nationality had to make a choice ‘for'either Indonesian or Chinese citizenship. See Mackie and Coppel, "A Preliminatygsurveyfifi 9—12,for a brief overview of this complex episode of legal wrangling, which did nothing. , to assuage Indonesian distrust oftheir Chinese co-inhabitants. . _. :._ 5" Quoted-in David Jenkins, "The Business of Hatred,” Sydney Morning Herald, 28 October l998. - .' - - Dipesh Chakrabarty, “Provincializing Europe: PostcolOniality and the Critique of History,” Cultural Studies, 6, no.3 (1992): 337—357. ' _ _- " For a detailed account of the adoption of assimilationist policies by Suharto’s New Order, see Coppel, indonesian Chinese in Crisis. _ Ariel Heryanto, "Ethnic Identities and Erasure: Chinese Indonesians in Public Culture,” in Southeast Asian identities: Culture and Politics of Representations in indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, ed. Joel S. Kahn (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998), 101.7 A ' ' ' ' S? 53 59 EU given an astute analysis of the contradictions of the assimilation process in “relationsto' lews in modernizing EurOpe: “The fact that their cultural similarity had been achieved [rather than inherited] made the acculturated aliens different from the rest, ’not really like us’, guilty of duplicity and probably also of ill intentions. In this sense,.t.cultural assimilation in the framework of the national state was self-defeating.” (1242-). .. .. A comparison with Uganda is salutary here. In the early 19705, Idi Arr-iinezkpe'lled all South Asians,‘who occupied a similar position as an entrepreneurial 'mino'ri'tjé'to'ithie disastrous detriment of the economic development of the country. By the mi_d-'_1‘9'_905-, -. the Ugandan government had developed policies to woo these people'baCk into-the 61 country. - .r ‘2 "Bring funds home, ethnic Chinese told,” The Straits Times, 28 October 1999. 53 Quoted in Reid, 62. - - -_ _ ‘ 5- 54 Linda Y. C. Lim and L. A. Peter Gosling, Strengths and Weaknesses of Minority Status for Southeast Asian Chinese at a Time of Economic Growth and Liberalizatio_h,”jin Essential Outsiders, ed. Chirotand Reid , 300 (285—317). * ' 55 Gerry van Klinken, "The May Riots,” Digest 63, Inside lndonesia, 29 May 1 ' /www.insideindonesia.org>). There, has been considerable discussion about whether the riots were spontaneous or in fact orchestrated by forces within the Indonesian E—TRACES : 2 'Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity andAmbivalence (Cambridge: Polity Press, 199]), has . : 67 68 EB 70 3‘1 -73 74 72': See, for example, Jeremy Seagrave, Lords of the Rim, The invisible Empire of the Overseas Chinese (London: Bantam Press, t 995). 'Trapped in Ambivalence -'2"military. The latter would imply, according to some, that anti-Chinese racism itself was ' deliberateiy promoted by powerful interests. Whether or not this is the case, it'shouid i_ ',be_ pointed out that any mass orchestration of anti-Chinese attacks could not have been successful had it not resonated with already existing sentiments against Chinese. 5‘?“ One important issue in this respect is the controversial role of the International Monetary Fund in imposing economic measures on developing countries receiving IMF assistance {such as the abolition of subsidies on basic commodities such as fuel) without recognizing the adverse social consequences of such economic rationalism. . . Liem Sioe Liong was one of the business magnates whose house in Jakarta was attacked during the May 1998 riots. He reportedly fled to Singapore soon after, taking his billions , “with him, but announced he would return and reinvest in Indonesia after the election " of the new President, Abdurrahman Wahid. “I’ll take my money back to Jakarta: Liern,’_’ The Straits Times, 8 November 1999. , r r Ai-wah Ong and Donald Nonlni, ed. Ungrounded Empires. The Cultural Politics of ' Modern Chinese Transnationalism (New York: Routledge, 1997). ' Lim and Gosling, 299. ' u . Professor Wang Gungwu has expressed similar reservations on the basis'oi his thorough historical analysis ofthe now discarded ideology of the Chinese sojourner (huaqiao) in his "A Single Chinese Diaspora? SomeHistorical Reflections/in imagining the Chinese Diaspora: Two Australian Perspectives (Canberra: Centre for the Study of the Chinese Southern Diaspora, Australian National University, .1999). A. Dahana, Comment on Mely (3. Tan, -in Ethnic, Chinese as Southeast Asians, ed. Suryadinata, 68. ' ' - For example, President Suharto’s successor, B. J. Habibie, ordered the abolition of the ‘ distinction between pribumi and non-pribumi inall official circumstances. Yenni Kwok, “A Daring Leap of Faith,” Asiaweek, 16 July 1999-. TRACES : 2% ...
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9.1 - len Ang ‘Trapped in Ambivalence Chinese lndonesians...

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