Historical Dutch-Asiatic Trade

INTRODUCTION - The historical Dutch Asiatic trade was an important factor in shaping the world economy until late in the eighteenth century. During this time these seafarers changed their home country and a lot of countries in the Asiatic world, economically and culturally. The Dutch where already a large seafaring nation before the start of the East Asia Company when changes in political circumstances forced them to open new trading routes. However, due to constraints and ingenuity they took a different approach to this trade than other countries.

This is one of the stories that can be told by the data that has been digitised from historical over de past decades. Many old logs that took days or even weeks to analyse can be viewed on a map in mere seconds. Visualization technology is at a point where it is possible to develop user friendly interaction with this data. There are beautiful stories hidden away in this past and now we have the way to allow everyone to create their own perspective on the material available.

One of these source it the ledger of the "Boekhouder Generaal van Batavia". This database contains many voyages of vessels between Asiatic countries themselves and between Asiatic countries and the Netherlands. Unlike many other nations the Dutch traded a lot internally in Asia. With smart negotiation and manoeuvring they managed to connect the Asiatic world to each other, on a scale not yet achieved before. The shipbuilding capacity of the Netherlands and a drive for exotic goods drove many sailors to explore a world unknown to them.

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Yet many of these sailors died. While the destination was exotic for many, the journey was perilous. This is a story told by another database "VOC: Opvarenden". But not only was there a big difference in whom enabled this by social class, there was also a big difference in whom benefited from this by cultural status. "The Atlas of Mutual Heritage" is a project that collects information in this regard. The Dutch entered a complex cultural landscape shaped by the Majapahit and Islamic kingdoms, stories which are barely known in the Netherlands. After the nationalisation of the East India Company the character of the venture changed dramatically, of which effects last to this day.