Public Lecture


Cosmos Malabaricus: Opening the Dutch Window on a Malabar Renaissance


Professor Jos Gommans

Professor of Global and Colonial History, Institute of History, Leiden University 

Chair: Professor P K Michael Tharakan

Chairperson, KCHR

 Date & Time: 23 January 2023 , 11.00 am, High Tea: 10.30 am

Venue:  Legendary Port, Hotel Grand Muziris, North Paravur

Join via Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 568 895 2764
Passcode: KCHR


Abstract: In this lecture the speaker will reconnoitre the potentialities of Dutch archival sources for the early modern history of Kerala as inspired by some major trends of its present-day historiography. This, he proposes to do as a relative outsider, exploring the political-economic, the cultural, the commercial and the religious landscape of an early modern Malabar that evokes the notion of a dynamic vernacular renaissance driven by increasing local wealth and global connections. As such, it is meant as an invitation to the historians of Kerala to think about an integrated research agenda coming from a more in-depth exploitation of the Dutch archive.

About the speaker: Jos Gommans is professor of Colonial and Global History at Leiden University. He is the author of two monographs on early-modern South and Central Asian history: The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, 1710-1780, (Delhi: Oxford University Press 1999), Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads to Empire (London: Routledge 2002). An omnibus of his work came out recently as The Indian Frontier: Horse and Warband in the Making of Empires (Delhi: Manohar Publishers 2018) and contributed to major works of reference like the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Cambridge World History. He also wrote extensively on Dutch colonial history, co-edited Exploring the Dutch Empire (London: Bloomsbury, 2005) and co-authored the monograph The Dutch Overseas Empire, 1600-1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021). In that context, he also produced various Dutch source publications including one archival inventory and two historical VOC-atlases. In 2021 he initiated the Cosmos Malabaricus project in which Indian and Dutch historians will work together to further exploit the archives of the Dutch East India Company for the early modern history of Kerala. In recent years his work focused on the Indo-Dutch artistic encounter and wrote for the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum The Unseen World: The Netherlands and India from 1550 (Nijmegen: Vantilt 2018). As a follow-up, he acted as guest curator of the 2019 exhibition “India and the Netherlands in the Age of Rembrandt” at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Marahaj Vastu Sangrahalaya in Mumbai. In his latest publications he increasingly moves towards global intellectual history, focusing on the impact of Hellenic thinking on post-Mongol kingship, in particular in Mughal India. This is part of a new book project on philosopher-kings in global history.