AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 449

[ Southeast Asia Sessions, Table of Contents | Panels by World Area Main Menu ]

Session 449: Dutch Sources in East and Southeast Asian Historiography of the 17th and 18th Centuries

Organizer and Chair: Leonard Blusse, Leiden University, Netherlands

This panel forms part of the proposed multi-session panel series on the use of both older and very recently published Dutch and Chinese source publications in the area of Asian history. As demonstrated by the abstracts, the individual papers of this panel will focus on specific source publications and explain of what particular use these documents in English and Chinese translation may be to historians of China and Southeast Asia. These source publications are: the General Missives, the Diaries of Batavia Castle, the Gonganbu or Chinese Minutes of the Gongguan of Batavia, The Diaries of Zeelandia Castle at Taiwan, and the Formosan Encounter. The latter source publication deals specifically with the original tribal population of Taiwan. This panel looks at these published sources critically as useful instruments to gain a deeper understanding of such issues as: Formosan aboriginal history; the reconstruction of Formosan historical topography; the mechanics of the maritime trade in the Eastern Seas in the seventeenth century; the local history of the Chinese urban community of Batavia; and the rewriting of the early history of Taiwan as a co-colonized Dutch-Chinese enterprise. Wherever possible, we shall specifically compare these sources with existing Chinese language source materials. This particular panel serves as a companion to the panel focusing on Japan as proposed by Prof. Matsukata Fuyuko of Tokyo University and the Leiden panel focusing on the use of VOC sources in South Asian historiography.

Redrawing Maps: Dutch and Chinese source publications and the reconstruction of Taiwanese topography
Peter P. Kang, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

The topographical history of the island of Taiwan is particularly interesting because of its puzzling nature. Already more than a century ago it was acknowledged by Chinese local historians and Japanese historians that most of the Chinese place names of the island have been derived from earlier existing names in the local languages of the aboriginal tribes of the island, that populated the island before the arrival of the Dutch and the Chinese settlers in the seventeenth century. Most of that research was based on oral tradition. Not until the entries on Taiwan, China and Japan in the published Dutch VOC Diaries of Batavia castle (1621-1683) were translated and annotated in Japanese by Murakami Naojiro and Nakamura Takashi in the 1960s and 70s it became for the first time possible to retrace many of the original place names. Thanks to the Dutch annotated publication of all the surviving Diaries of Zeelandia castle at Tayouan in the 1980s and 90s ( since then completely translated in Chinese by Chiang Shu-sheng) we are now at last able to reconstruct the seventeenth century map of the island. As a result the original location and subsequent migration of the various tribal populations can de followed. By combining the Dutch, Chinese, Japanese and aboriginal data it moreover becomes possible to retrace the gradual settlement by Chinese Han settlers in the centuries that followed.

The use of VOC source publications for historical economic research about early modern Monsoon Asia.
Huiwen H. Koo, National Taiwan University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

Taiwan was a Dutch colony between 1624 and 1662. Besides serving as an entrepot in the Asian trade, Taiwan also played a central role in the international trade by exporting deerskins to Japan and sugar to Japan, Persia and Amsterdam. To understand the economic history of Taiwan in the 17th century, one may access the published source publications of the Diaries of Zeelandia castle at Tayouan, of the so-called General Missives ( also translated into Chinese), and of the Diaries of Batavia Castle, as well as the yet unpublished cargo lists (facturen) carried by the ships sailing out of Taiwan. All these archival data can be found in the VOC archives at The Hague. Unfortunately, the collection of the cargo lists of Taiwan is not complete, and we have to make use of documents in other factories of the VOC to complement it. For instance, the published Deshima Diaries (in Dutch, English and partly Japanese editions) and the unpublished trade journals (Negotie Journalen) and cargo lists of incoming ships in Japan and the same thing in Persia and in Batavia. The accounting data kept by different factories gives rich information about Taiwan’s exports. The detailed quantitative data, together with the narratives in the rich VOC collection of diaries and correspondence, provides us a good understanding of both the so far unexplored economic history of Dutch colonial Taiwan and the history of maritime trade in Monsoon Asia.

The Chinese archives of the Kong Koan of Batavia
Nie N. Dening, Xiamen University, People's Republic of China

It is generally thought that Western colonial regimes only leave us biased Eurocentric archival data on colonial possessions which only after careful scrutiny could be used to understand the local history of the indigenous or other Asian populations. Ironically, it is thanks to the Dutch colonial regime that we now have a voluminous Chinese language archive on the Chinese urban community of Batavia. In the aftermath of Batavia’s infamous Chinese massacre of 1740, the administration of the Chinese urban population was reorganized in the so-called Chinese Council or Kong Koan of Batavia which continued to exist until the outbreak of the Pacific War in Southeast Asia. The archives of the Kong Koan were rediscovered in the 1990s. Since then, they have been restored and are preserved at Leiden University. Over the past ten years members of the staffs of the Nanyang Research Institute of Xiamen University and the History Department of Leiden University have been engaged in cooperative research on the archive, and have already published nine source publications covering the local history of the Chinese community of Batavia from the late eighteenth until the middle of the nineteenth century. In combination with the database containing all preserved demographical data (now under construction), this Chinese source publication project about the only relatively complete archive of an Overseas Chinese urban community in existence, has given rise to a large number of innovative studies. In this contribution some of its results will be discussed, and new directions for further research proposed.

Gateaway To Asian History:The Batavia Diaries By Voc Officials
Mona M. Lohanda, Independent Scholar, Indonesia

After the hand over of authority from the Netherlands to the Indonesian government on 27 December 1949, all Dutch-created public institutions and agencies followed suit. One of those agencies, being established in 1892, is the present National Archives in Jakarta. The old name, i.e. ‘s Landsarchief, functioned as part of the Governor-General administration known as the office of Algemeen Secretarie (General Secretariate) The transfer of the management included the holdings, which at the time was Dutch-created archives covering the period of the first quarter of the 17th century to the 1950’s. Having volumes of approximately 10 kilometers linear, the abundance of historical data-materials contained in the colonial archives holdings is one of the great riches in Asia. Even archives created during the period of the former Dutch East India Company or the VOC (Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) surpassed the holdings housed in the Nederlands Nationaal Archief in The Hague. Of one the rich holdings of the 17th-18th centuries is the Daghregister gehouden in het Casteel Batavia (Batavia’s Daily Records) which is the main subject of this paper. The paper aims to give an elaborated description of the creation, the content and context, also the physical condition of the archive materials How unique is this collection as Dutch sources for Asian history might also be discussed. Given that the VOC sphere of activities stretched along the Indian Ocean and Asian waters, from the Cape of the Good Hope up to Deshima in Japan, documents created by the VOC are second to none in the sense of its abundance for the histories of those regions. Not only about the content and context of these materials as historical sources for Asian historiography, the paper will also describe how working with these 17th -18th centuries documents need special attention. Language became one of the barrier, besides the paper condition of the documents. Nevertheless, as the Daghregisters are unique in the sense that it was only created in Batavia as the seat or headquarter of VOC administration, neglecting such a great rich will be noted as academic shame.

Foundin Translation: the Deshima Diaries, Dutch sources on Tokugawa Japan
Isabel van Daalen, Independent Scholar, Japan