- The Untamed Archive: History-writing in the Netherlands East Indies and the Use of Archives
- History of the Human Sciences
- Volume | Issue number
- 26 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
Interest in the history of colonized areas has always been existent. For utilitarian purposes colonizers wanted to know more about the past of the areas they started to trade with and where they settled themselves. This article is confined to the use of the sources for the writing of history in the Dutch East Indies in the 19th century. On a limited scale and for diverse purposes, colonial civil servants, scholars and amateur historians started to investigate the history of the colony. This article scrutinizes whether in the 19th-century Dutch East Indies the European tendency to base history writing on a systematic use of archival sources became in vogue. This question, however, raises immediately some epistemological and practical problems that will be discussed in this article. Was there a similar European concept of archives in the Dutch East Indies? How were indigenous archival sources valued and used? What infrastructure was available to study historical archives? This explorative case study shows how historical interest within a 19th-century colony got stuck into an almost obsessive collecting of historical archives and other source material as a prerequisite for historical research.
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