The “Eurasian Question”

Solved by Migration?

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This article examines the arrangements that authorities put in place for populations of mixed ancestry from two former colonies in Asia—the Dutch East Indies and British India—and compares them with those of French Indochina during decolonization. These people of mixed ancestry, or “Eurasians,” as they were commonly called at the time, were a heterogeneous group. Some could pass themselves off as Europeans, while others were seen as indigenous people. The arrangements were negotiated during round table conferences, at which decolonization in all three colonies was prepared. Which agreements were made, what consequences did they have, and how and why did these differ across the three colonial contexts? To answer these questions, I use material from governmental archives from all three former colonial contexts. The article shows that information on the paternal ancestry of Eurasians was decisive in the allocation of European citizenship and admission to the colonizing country.

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Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies