Tanimbar interior

Project: Concurrent forces in the Banda Sea; Colonialism, trade, and local strategies on the edge of the Indonesian Archipelago

The aim of the project is to explore concurrent understandings of hierarchy, economy and society, involving Europeans and a complex of indigenous peoples in a long-term perspective, from the 16th to the 19th century. It focuses on a historical region of what is today Indonesia, namely the southern part of Maluku (the Moluccas, sometimes known as the Spice Islands), entailing an archipelagic world situated in or close to the Banda Sea.

Facts about the project

Project manager
Hans Hägerdal
Other project members

Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Linnaeus University Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies
Januari 1 2020- December 31 2021
History (Department of Cultural Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Humanities)
Research group
Linnaeus University Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

More about the project

Maluku consists of a vast maritime area between Timor, Sulawesi and Papua with thousands of mostly small islands. The region is linguistically, ethnically, religiously and in general culturally quite diverse or even fragmented.

Historically known as the Spice Islands because of the production of nutmeg, mace and cloves, it held a global importance in the 15th-17th centuries due to the economic profits made from the spice trade, and was the object of European colonial penetration. At length the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and later on the Dutch colonial state dominated the region politically. The relative wealth of source materials enables an analysis of historical processes in the contact zones between indigenous and foreign cultures.

The argument is that the workings of colonialism and anti-colonial strategies in a regional/local setting, must be seen through a multi-dimensional perspective, entailing larger colonial strategies, regional power configurations, and local every-day agencies to either adapt to or resist foreign domination. This necessitates a new look at European textual sources (which are almost the only textual sources at hand); a locally situated study of the past in order to move beyond the text. The project therefore transcends social history that uses historical sources to trace actual processes, and postcolonial critique that scrutinizes the biased nature of these sources.