President Widodo calls for Indonesians to rid themselves of ‘inlander, colonized mentality’

widodo indonesia colonialism

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has spoken out against the “inlander mentality” of inferiority that some Indonesians still possess.

Colonial mentality: Speaking at the 10th year celebration of the ruling National Democratic (NasDem) party, Widodo urged Indonesians to let go of culturally reinforced inferiority complex, especially when interacting with foreigners, reported Coconuts.

  • “I don’t want this inferior mentality, this inlander mentality, this colonized mentality to be entrenched in our nation’s mentality. Meeting bules (an Indonesian word for foreigners) is such a big deal to them. It’s sad,” Widodo was quoted by local platform Detik as saying.
  • The president, who believes the internalization and promotion of such views prohibit the country from achieving progress, used the term “inlander,” which Dutch colonialists originally used to describe native Indonesians.
  • “Maybe we have inlander mentality, colonized mentality, inferior mentality, because it’s in our DNA and it’s transferred through generations after we were colonized for 350 years,” he added.
  • Widodo called upon party members to serve as examples in rejecting the mentality.

Of “pointy nose” and white skin: According to experts, many Indonesians exhibit their negative self-perception through their obsession with fair skin and other white foreigner traits, reported South China Morning Post.

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  • “Many of us want to be white, we are afraid of getting tanned skin, many of us want to have pointy noses, and a lot of people are obsessed with having a white spouse. If a product is made overseas, people will be obsessed with it,” said Sociologist Devie Rahmawati.
  • Rahmawati referred to such obsession as a “postcolonial virus” that has been deeply embedded in Indonesian “society’s subconsciousness.”
  • “People think it is normal [to want] to be white, they are not aware that it is dangerous,” she added.
  • Body moisturizers, face creams, serums and other skin-whitening products are not only popular in Indonesia but in other parts of Asia as well.
  • Such products are said to capitalize on the culturally ingrained belief that a light complexion signals higher status since a dark complexion results from working outside under the sun.
  • To rid the population of such a mentality, Rahmawati suggested following the steps of South Korea, which she says “has put the West, and even the world, under its spell through its own popular culture.”
  • “Asians, including Indonesians, can identify more with South Koreans [than Westerners]. They can learn that they also have the chance to spread their culture on the global stage,” she added.

Featured Image via United Nations ESCAP

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