Child separation

Politics and practices of children’s upbringing by faith‐based organisations in (post)colonial Indonesia (1808‐1984)
1 September 2023 until 1 September 2027
Project member(s)
Montesinos Bravo, J.P. (John) , Prof. Monteiro, M.E. (Marit) , Prof. Geertje Mak (University of Amsterdam, Humanities Cluster Royal Academy of Science, NL-Lab)
Project type

Whereas child separation has been thoroughly investigated in countries such as Canada, Australia, and Vietnam, hardly anything concrete is known about the policies and practices of child separation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia. Here too, interferences with children seem to have been at the heart of (post)colonial governance from the start of the imperial administration in the Indonesian archipelago (1808). Colonial administrators often ‘outsourced’ the upbringing of various groups of children to Islamic, Protestant and Catholic faith‐based organisations, which provided a broad range of out‐of‐home care and education. Their initiatives and institutions appear to have been incorporated into the education and child welfare system of postcolonial Indonesia. Faith‐based organisations then widened their work field to transnational forms of child separation such as foster care and adoption, which were terminated by the Indonesian government in 1984.

This project examines the scope, spread and development of faith‐based child separation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia (1808‐1984). Its results will be made publicly accessible through an interactive georeferenced map, which can support the search for information by those whose families have been affected by child separation. The project investigates how policies and practices of faith‐based child separation aimed at achieving the structural cultural and social assimilation of children underpinning colonial governance and Indonesian nation‐building. Moreover, it takes a first step in collecting personal (im)material sources and integrating the voices and perspectives of separated children and their kin. A web publication of reconstructed life stories connects structural historical analysis with these personal sources.