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Earlymodern Cosmopolitanism in Dutch Eurasia


Admission requirements



In this course we will investigate the notion of early-modern cosmopolitanism in the context of transnational interaction and networks in Asia. With the help of published and unpublished (archival) primary sources we will specifically look at the way Dutchmen have participated in and contributed to this cosmopolitanism both at home and overseas. We will first explore the development of the most important networks of transnational diplomacy, trade, mission and learning. Next we will investigate how the information that circulated in these networks percolated in new Dutch worldviews as demonstrated in e.g. maps, chronicles, gardens, collections, paintings, plays etc. Here we will ask ourselves to what extent this “Dutch” perspective was actually mediated through Asian intermediaries. Hence this course empathically deals with the question of Asian agency in the making of Dutch (proto-)orientalism. Comparing regional contact-zones will reveal differences in regional information circuits as well as considerable variation in the way the Dutch interacted with the local societies. Apart from such regional particularities, we will address the question to what extent (the representation of) Dutch-Asian interaction changed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Was this the result of important intellectual trends in Europe (e.g. the Enlightenment) or should we rather look for Asian developments?
Students with an interest in Atlantic history are also invited to join this course since an interesting counterpoint for this course could be provided by studying the impact of the Dutch encounter with African and American peoples.

Course objectives



See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

Oral and written progress reports (50%); paper (50%).



Reading list

To be announced.


via uSis.

Contact information

Email: Prof.dr. J.J.L. Gommans


If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch