donderdag 23 februari 2017

The VOC under attack again

The National Acrhives in the hague have finished  their digital copy of the VOC archives for the period 1600-1800 as to the Dutch resources and to celebrate this new access for sources on Indonesia (and many other regions like Muscat, Ceylon/Sri Lanka, Malaysia) an exhibition about the VOC has been opened in the building of the National Archives, attached to the Cerntral Station of the Hague.
In its  first review a comparison was made with 2002 when there was a celebration of 400 years VOC. At that time historical memory was dominated by pride: how the Dutch had been able to establish such a big enterprise, worldwide, the first global business.
Now it is quite different. Nancy Hovingh, the lady who is responsible for designing the exhibition read to her surprise 'how open Dutch staff of the VOC were about corruption, the way they could become rich in an easy way, even with the trade in slaves.' Much violence is now shown and it is clear that the VOC was much more than an innocent trading firm, it was building an empire with the goal to make much profit at all cost.
Much attention is now given to the way the Dutch treated the blacks in southern Africa. Much attention is also given to one of the warrior-governors, Cornelis Speelman who in an alliance with Bugis Arung Palakka destroyed the Makassar kingdom/sultanate and established in Makassar an important fortificatioon for the VOC in their efforts to dominate the trade in spices. Like was done later by Westerling in the same region,. 1946-7, this was not possible without burning some 30 villages in the region with many casualities. This was the price for the spice trade! The big drawing made in praise of Sipalman alias Speelman and Arung Palakka now has become one of the emblems of the exhibition.
Top left: Cornelis Speelman and right Arung Palakka, witnessing the burning down of Makassar villages.

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