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Lecture | COGLOSS

Colonial and Global History Seminar

Thursday 10 November 2022
COGLOSS seminars 2022-2023
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
2.60 (conference room)

The second CoGloSS Session of the year is held by Vany Susanto, an alumna of COGLO’s Cosmopolis Advanced Program. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam School of Historical Studies, UvA. Her research is about the practice of petitioning the VOC High Government of early-modern Batavia by peoples from diverse sociocultural backgrounds in the Dutch overseas empire. In her talk, she will share some thoughts on her recently wrapped-up pilot study titled 'Petitioning the High Government of Batavia' for the first year of research and her state-of-the-art project. 

Her talk will be on Thursday the 10th of November from 15:00-16:30 at Huizinga 2.60 (Conference Room of the Huizinga Building, Leiden). No registration is required.

'Petitioning the High Government of Batavia' - Vany Susanto 

Presentation Abstract
Scholarship on political participation by colonial subjects has largely ignored the research potential of petitions, focusing rather on the more extreme voices of collective demands such as revolts, riots, or mutiny. Although the extension of petitioning practice from the metropole to the colonies had integrated subjects into the colonial power structure and re-affirmed the legitimacy of Dutch rule in Asia, this practice had also allowed local subjects to negotiate with the colonial power on a daily basis. The ideal setting to analyze colonial petitioning is Batavia, as it was by far the largest colony in the Dutch overseas empire and the seat of the VOC central authority in Asia. Due to this centrality, the High Government of Batavia received petitions not only from the inhabitants of Batavia and its surrounding lands, but also from the residents of other VOC territories and beyond. As pilot study, I investigate 196 surviving petitions from 1720, one of the peak years of VOC Batavia. My investigation focuses on the colonial petitioning procedure, the petitioners themselves, the roles of petitioning in a colonial society, and the government's responses to petitions. The results of this first-year investigation are two-fold. First, I identify some fields of negotiation between the High Government and the colonial subjects. Secondly, I recognize four types of relationship between the petitioners and the High Government of Batavia. These perceived relationships allow my study to contribute to the discussion of the VOC as an urban authority, employer, imperial ruler and to a lesser extent, as a merchant.

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