News item Huygens ING

3.8 million euro for digital disclosure of Dutch East India Company archives by Huygens Institute

27 May 2021

The Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands receives €3.8 million from the Dutch Research Council for the GLOBALISE project to provide digital access to the UNESCO archive of the VOC. Together with the VU Amsterdam, the National Archives, the International Institute for Social History and the Humanities Cluster of the Royal Netherlands Academy, the institute is building a state-of-the-art scientific infrastructure, enabling a better understanding of Dutch colonial history.

The UNESCO Memory of the World archive of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC), consisting of approximately twenty-five million pages, not only gives insights into the workings of the VOC, but also offers a unique view on interactions between European and non-European actors in Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This source material is thus critical to understanding the first phases of globalisation and colonialism that transformed the early-modern world and left an important mark on modern-day international relations. Currently, however, doing research on this vast collection of handwritten documents is extremely challenging.

Disclosing rapports of the Dutch East India Company

Thanks to an investment of 3.8 million euros from the Dutch Research Council, the GLOBALISE project will change this. Over the period 2021-2026, a consortium consisting of Huygens Institute, VU Amsterdam university, the Dutch National Archives, International Institute for Social History and the department of Digital Infrastructure of the Humanities Cluster of the Royal Netherlands Academy will develop a digital scientific infrastructure that will open up the most important series of VOC reports for advanced new research methods.
Matthias van Rossum, project leader and co-author of a critically acclaimed report on the involvement of Amsterdam in slave trade, says that thanks to this digital infrastructure, the general public will be able to become more involved in this complex and intensely debated period of Dutch overseas history.

“The VOC kept very detailed archives on large parts of the world that provide information on for example people, cultures, trade, (global) commodities and politics,” says Van Rossum. “It is one of the largest archives worldwide with perhaps the most information on this period of history for the large parts of the globe where the VOC was active. This concerns a region stretching from India to China, from South-Africa to the Middle-East, and from Indonesia to Japan.

Read this news item on the Huygens ING website.

Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens ING)

The Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens ING) is an Academy research institute that studies the history of science, Dutch history and literature. Huygens ING extracts information from historical sources and literary texts, is building a digital infrastructure, and offers searchable online data. It provides an historical context for contemporary issues related to politics and governance, literature, science and society.

The Huygens Institute for Netherlands History (Huygens ING) is located in Amsterdam (Oudezijds Achterburgwal 185, 1012 DK Amsterdam).

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