The Netherlands is home to one million citizens with roots in the former colonies Indonesia, Suriname and the Antilles. Entitlement to Dutch citizenship, pre-migration acculturation in Dutch language and culture as well as a strong rhetorical argument (‘We are here because you were there’) were strong assets of the first generation. This ‘postcolonial bonus’ indeed facilitated their integration. In the process, the initial distance to mainstream Dutch culture diminished. Postwar Dutch society went through serious transformations. Its once lilywhite population now includes two million non-Western migrants and the past decade witnessed heated debates about multiculturalism.
The most important debates about the postcolonial migrant communities centered on acknowledgement and the inclusion of colonialism and its legacies in the national memorial culture. This resulted in state-sponsored gestures, ranging from financial compensation to monuments. The ensemble of such gestures reflect a guilt-ridden and inconsistent attempt to ‘do justice’ to the colonial past and to Dutch citizens with colonial roots. Postcolonial Netherlands is the first scholarly monograph to address these themes in an internationally comparative framework. Upon its publication in the Netherlands (2010) the book elicited much praise, but also serious objections to some of the author’s theses, such as his prediction about the diminishing relevance of postcolonial roots.