The Dutch Empire in the Indian Ocean: Charting a System within a System

  • Eric Tagliacozzo, History, Cornell University
    Coach House, Green College, UBC and livestreamed

    Thursday, September 21, 5-6:30pm followed by a reception
    keynote lecture for the:
    Empire and Economy in the Premodern Indian Ocean Conference
  • The Dutch as an oceanic empire arrived mid-stream in the history of Europeans sailing the Indian Ocean—after the Portuguese, but before the English and French had taken hold as forces to be reckoned with on a systemic scale. Although the Portuguese presence was earlier, by the middle decades of the seventeenth century the Dutch were becoming more important, and by the end of that same century it is no exaggeration to say that the Republic’s ships were the most vital single web of trade and colonial interest along the elongated ring of the Indian Ocean. More than any other external power in the Early Modern epoch, their extended contacts and mercantile presence from the Cape of Good Hope to Japan—with colonies and trading posts in many places in between—helped define the Indian Ocean as a “system,” one which had its own rhythms and internal logic. This was, therefore, a "system within a system," one worthy of closer examination. This presentation will chronicle some of the history of this expansion, florescence and eventual diminution by the early years of the nineteenth century, an era which might be tenuously termed as the dawn of "Modernity" in this part of the world.

    This keynote lecture has been co-organized by Richard Unger, History.

    For more information on the Empire and Economy in the Premodern Indian Ocean Conference, visit the conference webpage

    Eric Tagliacozzo is the John Stambaugh Professor of History at Cornell University. Much of his work has centred on the history of people, ideas and material in motion in and around Southeast Asia, especially in the colonial age. His first book, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asian Frontier (Yale 2005), examined many of these ideas by analyzing the history of smuggling in the region. His last book project was called The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Oxford 2013), which attempts to write a history of this very broad topic from the earliest times to the present. He has most recently finished a monograph about the linked maritime histories of Asia, from Yemen east to Yokohama (Princeton 2022). He is also the editor or co-editor of several other books, the full list of which can be reviewed online.

  • Unless otherwise noted, all of our lectures are free to attend and do not require registration.

September 21st, 2023 from  5:00 PM to  6:30 PM
Custom Lecture Fields
Is this event a spotlight?
Speaker Series Empire and the Economy in the Premodern Indian Ocean Conference
Short Title The Dutch Empire in the Indian Ocean: Charting a System within a System
Speaker (new) Eric Tagliacozzo, History, Cornell University
Short Speaker Eric Tagliacozzo
Speaker First Name
Speaker Last Name
Speaker Affiliation
Speaker Credentials
Speaker Image
Youtube URL
Podcast URL
Bio Field