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Open Access The Complex World of the Chung Hwa Hui

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The Complex World of the Chung Hwa Hui

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International Engagements of Chinese Indonesian Peranakan Students in the Netherlands, 1918–1931

This article describes the foreign political engagements of the Chung Hwa Hui (CHH), the Chinese Indonesian students’ association in the Netherlands, in the 1920s and the first half of the 1930s. By exploring these activities beyond the borders of the Dutch empire, and thus widening the traditional nation- and empire-centred research focus, it becomes clear how the students in the CHH cautiously determined their position in the complex world around them. Despised by other organizations as passive and apolitical, it appears that the Chinese Indonesians were actually well aware of events in China, the Netherlands East Indies, and the international diplomatic world, and actively engaged with various groups and networks in Europe and beyond. Although the article exemplifies the merits of a transnational approach, it also undergirds the theoretical reflections of Frederick Cooper regarding globalization. As Cooper rightly argues, globalization is neither a modern phenomenon nor an irreversible trend: ‘spatial affinities could narrow, expand, and narrow again’ (2005:94–5, 109). As the case of the CHH shows, their increased awareness of the world around them sometimes allowed for surprising adventures in Paris and Brussels, but on other occasions led to periods of contraction and introversion.

Affiliations: 1: University of Amsterdam, Institute of Culture and History k.stutje@uva.nl

10.1163/22134379-17104004
/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17104004
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This article describes the foreign political engagements of the Chung Hwa Hui (CHH), the Chinese Indonesian students’ association in the Netherlands, in the 1920s and the first half of the 1930s. By exploring these activities beyond the borders of the Dutch empire, and thus widening the traditional nation- and empire-centred research focus, it becomes clear how the students in the CHH cautiously determined their position in the complex world around them. Despised by other organizations as passive and apolitical, it appears that the Chinese Indonesians were actually well aware of events in China, the Netherlands East Indies, and the international diplomatic world, and actively engaged with various groups and networks in Europe and beyond. Although the article exemplifies the merits of a transnational approach, it also undergirds the theoretical reflections of Frederick Cooper regarding globalization. As Cooper rightly argues, globalization is neither a modern phenomenon nor an irreversible trend: ‘spatial affinities could narrow, expand, and narrow again’ (2005:94–5, 109). As the case of the CHH shows, their increased awareness of the world around them sometimes allowed for surprising adventures in Paris and Brussels, but on other occasions led to periods of contraction and introversion.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134379-17104004
2015-01-01
2017-11-25

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