Roel studied English Language and Culture at Utrecht University (with minors in Conflict Studies and Journalism) and International Relations in Historical Perspective. He graduated with honours with a thesis on the Plantation Guard during the Indonesian War of Independence (1945-1950). In May 2017 he successfully defended his dissertation entitled, Collaboration is A Delicate Concept: Alliance-Formation and the Colonial Defence of Indonesia and Malaysia, 1945-1957 at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. This thesis is a case study on the interface of late European empires and colonized societies. Specifically, it investigates how the Dutch and British empires sought to recruit local supporters in Indonesia and Malaysia, respectively, and how these locals negotiated decolonization for their own ends and interests.
‘The Plantation as Counterinsurgency Tool: Indonesia 1900-1950’, in: Marin Thomas and Gareth Curless (eds.), Decolonization and Conflict: Colonial Comparisons and Legacies, p 57-78. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.
‘Gathered on the Point of a Bayonet: The Negara Pasundan and the Colonial Defence of Indonesia 1946-50’, International History Review 39-1: 30-47, 2017.
‘Beyond Sticks and Carrots: Local Agency in Counterinsurgency’, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development 5-3 : 391-415, 2012.
‘Who Wants to Cover Everything, Covers Nothing: The Organization of Indigenous Forces in Indonesia, 1945-1950’, Journal of Genocide Research 14-3/4: 337-358, 2012.
Violence Strikes Root: Why Vigilantism became Central to Indonesian Politics, 1943-1955