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Historian Anne-Lot Hoek intimidated because of Indonesia research – NRC

Historian Anne-Lot Hoek intimidated because of [involvement in Dutch-government-sponsored] Indonesia research

NEWS. History. The Dutch professional association of historians expresses its disapproval of the intimidation and threats by activists against Anne-Lot Hoek, author of De strijd om Bali (The Struggle for Bali.)

NRC, By: Bart Funnekotter, January 30, 2024

Bart Funnekotter

On Tuesday, the Royal Dutch Historical Society (KNHG), the association for professional historians, published a statement expressing its disgust regarding the intimidation of researcher Anne-Lot Hoek by activists who are or were involved in the Histori Bersama foundation and the KUKB foundation. Hoek, author of the book De strijd om Bali (The Struggle for Bali, 2021), is being attacked so severely, according to the KNHG, that there is “an infringement on the personal freedom and safety of the historian and her family”.

In her book, which NRC called “impressive”, Hoek writes about imperialism, resistance and the struggle for independence on the Indonesian island of Bali between 1846-1950. There are numerous posts on the Histori Bersama site in which her work was criticized.

Hoek is accused of accepting a subsidy from the Dutch government for her research. She allegedly ignored critical Indonesian voices, such as those of activist Jeffrey Pondaag. Hoek’s book is said to be “nothing but Dutch government propaganda”.

‘Academic freedom at stake’

Hoek denies these accusations. She has often referred to Pondaag’s work and worked on her book as an independent researcher. According to KNHG director Antia Wiersma, who is speaking on behalf of the board on this issue, the academic freedom is at stake. “What makes this case extra special is the threatening nature of the words and images spread by the people who are agitating against Anne-Lot Hoek. The history profession thrives on discussion, but this is no longer an academic conversation.”

When asked, Anne-Lot Hoek does not want to elaborate on the harassment against her. “It is annoying that my work is so misunderstood by this group,” she says, “but of course that should never be a reason to speak so negatively about my person for so long on a regular basis.”

The KUKB foundation “represents the interests of (Indonesian) victims who suffered under the Dutch colonial occupation,” according to its website. Histori Bersama is an online platform where Dutch and Indonesian authors reflect on the colonial past.

Founder Marjolein van Pagee was asked for a response, but did not provide one.[1]

  • A version of this article also appeared in the January 31, 2024 printed newspaper.

[1] Histori Bersama was not informed about the KNHG-statement until NRC, a few hours before publication, contacted founder and board member Marjolein van Pagee to ask her response. NRC-journalist Funnekotter gave her two hours to reply. But, given the seriousness of the allegations, this was not a reasonable time. Van Pagee is currently in Indonesia and has a very busy schedule due to the book presentation of the Indonesian translation of her book ‘Banda. The genocide of Jan Pieterszoon Coen’. Although the next day the Histori Bersama sent NRC a lengthy response, Funnekotter nevertheless stated that Van Pagee did not respond.

Read also:

Press release Histori Bersama – KNHG accusations

Press release Royal Dutch Historical Society – January 30 2024