AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 634

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Session 634: Roundtable: The Use of Dutch Sources in the Historiography of Asia

Organizer: Leonard Blusse, Leiden University, Netherlands

Discussant: Ghulam A. Nadri, Georgia State University, USA

Provided we be allowed to bring participants of the three (proposed) panels on the use of Dutch and Asian sources in Asian historiography (on Japan, East/Southeast Asia, and South India/Sri Lanka) together in a round table discussion, we hope to provide an interesting forum for all Asian historians who have hitherto not made use of these sources. This roundtable seeks to highlight new developments in this particular area of Asian historiography. Recent years have seen a considerable increase in initiatives to translate and publish Dutch-language materials relating to Asia, making this voluminous corpus increasingly accessible to researchers across the globe. This calls for a new research agenda for comparative and connected histories that could be made possible through the use of these sources. The roundtable will discuss the textual approach to these sources by asking the following questions: in what context of incentives and constraints did these texts originate; was there a framework that predetermined the content of these sources; and finally: was there a ‘VOC discourse’? The corpus of Company-related sources has specific features that will be highlighted. Compared to other materials, the VOC archive is replete with ‘on-the-ground’ information which might be used as a valuable source for local labor conditions, consumption patterns and markets. Such materials – especially in combination with local Asian sources – are invaluable for reconstructing social environments. This roundtable is an open invitation to scholars of Asia to look into the wealth of materials that is increasingly made available in their respective areas of interest.