Entangled Encounters: "The Formosans" and the Dutch Colonial Project, 1624-1662
Formosa (Taiwan) was one of the first territorial colonial possessions that the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) governed in Asia. Here the first profound encounter occurred between "Western civilization" and the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) culture sphere. Because Chinese immigrants were also involved in the Dutch colonial project, the encounters initiated the subtle cross-cultural contacts among the Dutch, the Formosans and the Chinese. Curiously, even though the native Formosans should be seen as playing a leading part in the colonial project of the VOC, their roles in the historical narrative and the historiography of the island are still vague and remain to be explored.
This research project will focus on the agency of the Formosans during the Dutch colonization and will highlight the active role of the aborigines as a key element in the historical process of Dutch expansion in Taiwan. My main concern is to analyze Formosan participation, practice and performance in the political-economical and socio-cultural spheres in cross-cultural encounters with the Dutch as well as the Chinese. In this way I hope to show the active autonomous engagements of the Formosans and thus challenge the quandary of historical agency in colonial cross-cultural encounters. At the same time this research will be put in the larger context of the VOC’s encounter with Austronesian-speaking people elsewhere in Southeast Asia. In other words, I intend to examine to what extent "the Formosa pattern" can be compared to other colonial projects in Indonesia.
Prof. Dr. J. Leonard Blussé
Prof. TUNG, Yuan-chao