Matthias van Rossum (IISH) has been awarded a Veni grant (NWO) for his research project Between local debts and global markets: Explaining slavery in South and Southeast Asia 1600-1800. His research will focus on the relatively unknown history of Asian slavery and aims to uncover the early roots of modern slavery.
The Dutch history of slavery is often studied from an Atlantic point of view, and as a result the history of slavery in Asia has received relatively little attention. Further, it is a fairly commonplace belief that Asia was characterized particularly by 'mild' and 'non-economic' forms of slavery.
Van Rossum hopes to prove that this traditional perspective does not reflect the reality of slavery in the extensive territories of the VOC. Drawing on VOC archives, he will investigate how slave labour was used in production for the world market.
There are currently almost 36 million slaves worldwide. A large proportion of them are in Asia.
About Matthias van Rossum
Van Rossum is a researcher at the IISH. He studied history at VU University, Amsterdam, and obtained his Ph.D. in 2013 with a dissertation on the social and intercultural relations between European and Asian sailors working for the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. His Kleurrijke Tragiek. De geschiedenis van slavernij in Azië onder de VOC, written for a popular audience, was published in May 2015.
The NWO’s Veni grants allow first-class researchers who have recently obtained their PhD an opportunity to develop their ideas further for a period of three years.