Colonialism in its modern dress: post-colonial narratives in EUrope-Indonesia relations

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Camille Nessel


This article argues that Indonesia-EU economic relations have been accompanied by a post-colonial narrative, which has led to a transposition of anti-colonial sentiment towards the Netherlands to the EU as a whole. The post-colonial theoretical approach adopted assumes that human beings create meaning through narratives to make sense of the world that surrounds us, and that national histories contain narratives that legitimate the existence of nation-states. Through a study of Indonesian nationalism and the place of the EUropean in it, the article shows how economic relations between Indonesia and the EU have been shaped historically. It will be demonstrated how since Indonesia’s independence encounters between Indonesia and Europe has been accompanied by the experience of past colonization by an EU member state. This, it is argued, is the result of nation-building in Indonesia, whereby the other was needed to construct solidarity among its members. At present, so the article concludes, although progress has been achieved in Indonesia-EU relations, the self-image of the EU as a force for good has not reached Indonesia’s shores.