Switzerland, Borneo and the Dutch Indies: Towards a New Imperial History of Europe, c.1770–1850

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_95191E7359A7
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Switzerland, Borneo and the Dutch Indies: Towards a New Imperial History of Europe, c.1770–1850
Journal
Past & Present
Author(s)
Bernhard C Schär
Publication state
Published
Issued date
08/02/2022
Language
english
Abstract
When Switzerland was created in 1848, one of its founding fathers went by the name of ‘Borneo Louis’. Before becoming a Swiss state builder, he had served as a mercenary in the Dutch East Indies. There he had founded a family with his native ‘housekeeper’, Silla. In Switzerland, he continued to benefit from Silla’s exploited labour.
Stories such as these seem unusual today, not for historical but for historiographical reasons. Borneo Louis was only one of c.70,000 mercenaries from all over Europe in Dutch imperial services. Silla was one of the countless ‘native concubines’ who were forced to support these men and thereby help the Dutch build their nineteenth-century empire in South East Asia. Other empires, too, depended on auxiliary services from Europeans hailing from regions with intra-European or short-lived empires, or none at all. Recent new imperial histories, however, have remained conceptually limited to the study of interconnections within national empires (mostly the British Empire). Pan-European dimensions of colonial histories have continued to lie outside their focus. Explaining how Switzerland became part of the Dutch imperial project, this article therefore calls for a renewed new imperial history: a history that explains how Europe emerged out of continuous connections across the boundaries of national empires.
Funding(s)
Swiss National Science Foundation / Projects / 172613
Create date
17/02/2022 12:54
Last modification date
14/03/2022 7:31
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