Are “the Natives” Educable? Dutch Schoolchildren Learn Ethical Colonial Policy (1890–1910)

Elisabeth Wesseling, Jacques Dane

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This article explores how geography textbooks and missionary storieswere used to persuade Dutch primary schoolchildren of the moral righteousness ofthe Ethical Policy for the Dutch East Indies between 1890 and 1910. Educative discoursestargeting Dutch children were instrumentalized in order to recruit the nextgeneration of missionaries, colonial administrators, and overseas entrepreneurs. Toachieve this aim, they dwelt at length on the opportunities for and constraints onuplifting indigenous children in the Indies. These narratives all convey the messagethat Indies children, though certainly capable of improvement, would never attainthe same level of civilization and moral integrity as their Dutch counterparts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-44
JournalJournal of Educational Media, Memory and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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