Imagining the Banda Massacre in the Seventeenth Century Dutch Republic



Imagining the Banda Massacre in the Seventeenth Century Dutch Republic


Dr. Manjusha Kuruppath

      (Lecturer in Brasenose College, Oxford)

Date & Time:- 12th August, 2021, Thursday at 3.00 PM (IST)



Recorded Video




The story of the Banda massacre is a familiar one. In 1621, the Dutch East India Company undertook the conquest of the Banda islands in Eastern Indonesia. Led by Jan Pieterszoon Coen, this was a culmination of their bid to wrest control of the production and trade of nutmeg and mace. With the conquest of the islands, the Dutch put an end to their reliance on the Bandanese for the procurement of the coveted spices and snuffed out English and Portuguese designs on the islands. In the process of the takeover, they were confronted with Bandanese resistance. Many died in battle, others perished in hunger trying to evade Dutch capture or were taken captive as slaves to Batavia. The massacre however was not always received with the unadulterated horror that it now does. In fact, it is only in the nineteenth century that the episode received overwhelming censure and came to be regarded as the ‘black page’ in Dutch history. This lecture ventures back to the beginning to probe how the story was first told. It will explore the complicity of seventeenth century printed texts in projecting an image of the annexation of Banda which reigned dominant in the seventeenth century. In doing so, it engages with the post-colonial theorizations of Edward Said and Gloria Wekker to shed light on the nature of Dutch culture in the period.

About the speaker:

Dr. Manjusha Kuruppath is an early modern historian.  Her book titled Staging Asia: The Dutch East India Company and the Amsterdam Theatre was published by Leiden University Press in 2016. Like her book, her articles have focussed on global history and how the Dutch encounter with Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was captured in writing in travel accounts and literary works. She currently researches the subject of disease in the early modern Banda Islands, Indonesia and works as a short-term lecturer at Brasenose College, Oxford.