The walled city of Batavia, today's downtown Jakarta, is chiefly remembered as the tropical deathpit, where the Dutch defiantly struggled to preserve a life style of brick houses and canals transplanted from the home country. This misleading stereotype masks the fascinating world of a colonial settlement, whose citizens of different ethnic origins coexisted in the shadow of the almighty Dutch East India Company ( Verinigde Oost-Indische Compagnie - VOC ) The heroes of this study, the Chinese settlers and the mestizo (Eurasian) wives of the Hollanders, stand out within this plural society : they played indispensable roles in the upkeep of Batavia, and yet both were objects of mockery and ridicule to contemporary western observers. How their lot came to be tied up to the interests of the VOC is shown in this collection of essays, in which new light is thrown on such wide ranging topics as the introduction of Chinese currency to the Archipelago, the origins of the Chinese massacre of 1740, the junk trade to China, and the central place of mestizo women in the early history of the town. The tragic biographies of a Chinese towkay and a Batavian widow reveal how profoundly the VOC affected the individual lives of its Batavian subjects.
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