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State and religious information networks in the Dutch colonial state


Admission requirements

Reading of 19th/20th century Dutch handwriting is required. Most lectures will be given in the National Archives in The Hague and/or Utrechts Archief.


It is well known that the colonial authorities in the Indies and in the Netherlands were dependent on a continuous flow of information collected by civil servants on the spot. The authorities needed reliable local information to be able to exercise authority. Civil servants were trained in collecting information and obliged to send it on a regular base to their superiors. These reports can be traced in the colonial government archives stored in the Indonesian and Dutch national archives.
Maybe less known but not less important in collecting local indigenous knowledge were the missionaries who often were stationed in remote places far from Batavia. In 1797 the Nederlandsch Zendeling Genootschap (NZG, Dutch Missionary Society) was established after stimulation from the London Missionary Society and became important and influential in the Indies. Until the early 1900’s the role of catholic mission was negligible.
The colonial administration should remain neutral in matters of religion. The idea has rooted that missionaries and colonial civil servants lived in two separated worlds without much interaction, but there is a growing number of examples that shows a different reality. According to the historian Joost Cote, mission information proved essential to some military campaigns in the Indies.
In this seminar we compare the purposes and methods of collecting information from indigenous communities by 19th and early 20th century civil servants and missionaries in the Indies. We want to find out on what scale the missionaries and civil servants exchanged information and whether mission information was used for state purposes and vice versa.

Course objectives

The first aim of this research seminar is to gain insight into the role, significance and purposes of information, information gathering, information-exchange, archives creation and knowledge systems of the colonial state and missionaries. The second aim is to discover how the process of information-gathering was organized in the 19th and 20th century. The third aim is to improve skills of using 19th and 20th century archives.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

Presentation&participation (20%) and paper (80%)



Reading list

To be announced.


via uSis.

Contact information

With the tutor: Prof.dr. K.J.P.F.M. Jeurgens