In 2021, it will be exactly 400 years ago since the VOC conquered almost all of the Banda Islands and killed and expelled the original inhabitants. The aim of the working group “Banda 2021” is to make sure that this important year will be marked by commemorative events in the Netherlands and on the Banda Islands, that will do justice to Bandanese perspectives on the events, increase historical knowledge among the Dutch population, and highlight the global significance of the Banda conquest. The working group brings together scholars, artists, and societal partners from the Netherlands, Indonesia and the United States.
The conquest of the Banda Islands constitutes one of the most violent moments in Dutch colonial history. Conquering a monopoly on the valuable trade in nutmeg and mace with the Banda Islands was a principal aim of the Dutch East India Company (VOC). Under VOC Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the attempts at conquest reached genocidal proportions. Almost the entire population, which had numbered 15,000 at the start of the seventeenth century, was killed by VOC soldiers, died through deprivation as a cause of military actions, or was actively expelled. The tipping point in the violence occurred on 8 May 1621, when Coen ordered the execution of 44 Bandanese chiefs or Orang Kaya after a spurious trial.
Coen’s actions on Banda had global ramifications. After systematically depopulating almost all of the islands, the VOC brought in enslaved people from various parts of Asia and East-Africa, including a small part of the previously expelled Bandanese. The Banda Islands served as a precedent for later Atlantic conquests of the Dutch West India Company (WIC), founded in the same year. The act of expulsion of the indigenous population connects the Banda Islands to other areas affected by Dutch colonialism in the same period, especially the region around present day New York. Here, the Dutch systematically pushed out the indigenous Lenape tribe to establish its own settlement New Amsterdam. In 1667, the Dutch sealed their conquest of the Banda archipelago by trading the small island Run and Suriname for the North-American colony New Netherland in the Treaty of Breda that ended the Second Anglo Dutch War.
Connecting stories of war, colonialism, slavery and expulsion on three continents, the 1621 conquest of the Banda Islands deserves a central place in collective memory. Commemorating the conquest at 400 is of special significance in the Netherlands. While statues, public buildings, tunnels, squares and street names in the Netherlands still carry the name of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the Bandanese people who were affected by Coen’s actions remain faceless. The working group “Banda 2021” will contribute to changing this historic imbalance through scientific gatherings, public exhibitions and art. It actively connects partners working in the Netherlands, the United States, Indonesia and most importantly on the Banda Islands itself, to further cultural and knowledge-exchange across regional divides.
Nancy Jouwe is a cultural historian and has worked 20+ years in the NGO sector as a managing director and curator on the crossroads of women’s rights, transnational movements, and art, culture and heritage. As a researcher, curator & projectmanager she focuses on cultural & social movements in postcolonial Netherlands and lectures at the Willem de Kooning Academy, Amsterdam University College and CIEE.
Wim Manuhutu (born Vught, the Netherlands, 1959) is a historian, specialized in the modern history of Indonesia. Between 1987 and 2008 he was a member of the board of directors of the Moluccan Historical Museum in Utrecht, focusing on exhibitions, events, and research. He published a number of articles on Moluccan history in both magazines and books.
Since 2009 Wim Manuhutu is the owner/director of Manu2u, a company that organizes cultural projects and events in with various different partners. He is active as a consultant, guest speaker and moderator. He is a guest lecturer at the Amsterdam University College and is working on a PhD thesis on the cultural links between the Netherlands and two of its former colonies, Suriname and Indonesia.
Pepijn Brandon is a Dutch historian whose work focuses on the interconnected themes of war, capitalist development and slavery. After defending his dissertation at the University of Amsterdam in 2013, Brandon worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the Netherlands (VU Amsterdam and IISH) and the United States (University of Pittsburgh). He currently works as Assistant Professor in social and economic history at the VU Amsterdam and as senior researcher at the International Institute of Social History. He is the author of the prize-winning monograph War, Capital, and the Dutch State, 1588-1795(Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2015; paperback: Haymarket Books, 2017). He is a member of the editorial board of the International Review of Social History, and acted as guest editor for special issues of several journals, including the The Financial History Review and Business History. During the spring semester of 2020, Brandon will be the Erasmus Lecturer on the History and Civilization of the Netherlands and Flanders at Harvard.
Merve Tosun (1993) is a historian specialized in colonial history with a focus on ‘Dutch Asia’. She wrote her thesis at Leiden University on the practice of legal pluralism in Batavia (Jakarta) and has contributed to projects at the intersection of enslavement, slave trade, diversity and colonial (legal) administration in South- and Southeast Asia.
As Junior Researcher at the International Institute for Social History, she currently maps (the interrelation of) social strategies employed by subaltern groups connected to labour obligations in Dutch Ceylon (Sri Lanka) as part of the project Between local debts and global markets: Explaining slavery in South- and Southeast Asia.
Matthias van Rossum (1984) is Senior Researcher at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam. He specializes in global labour historyand has published on the history of maritime labour, convicts, slavery, and slave trade, as well as labour conflicts and resistance. He currently studies the history of slavery and slave trade in early modern (Dutch) Asia.
Joëlla van Donkersgoed is a Ph.D candidate in program for Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS) at the department of Art History of Rutgers University. Her dissertation research focuses on the contemporary heritage interpretations by the local community of the Banda Islands in Indonesia. She is also engaged in the multiple projects that are aimed to increase heritage awareness for a domestic and international public, through the restoration activities of Dutch colonial architecture as well as the efforts to enlist the Banda Islands as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Beatrice Glow is an interdisciplinary artist and multisensory storyteller. She has been named a 2018-19 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, 2018-19 Smack Mellon Studio Program Artist, 2017 American Arts Incubator Artist, 2016-17 Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU Artist-in-Residence, 2015 Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Finalist, 2015 Wave Hill Van Lier Fellow, 2013 Franklin Furnace Fund recipient and 2008 Fulbright Scholar. Notable activities include solo exhibitions at NYU Institute of Fine Arts and Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Chile; group shows at Honolulu Biennial 2017, Park Avenue Armory and Galeri Nasional Indonesia; and a Duke University Press' Cultural Politics Journal feature.