Global Slavery, Local Bondage? Rethinking Slaveries as (Im)Mobilizing Regimes from the Case of the Dutch Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago Worlds
- Journal of World History
- University of Hawai'i Press
- Volume 31, Number 4, December 2020
- pp. 693-727
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This article aims to contribute to rethinking the history of slavery in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian archipelago. Recent scholarship provides increasing indications that the slave trade in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian archipelago worlds might have been more extensive than previously thought. This not only challenges the dominant focus on Atlantic slavery but also urges scholars to reassess current perspectives on slavery in Southeast and South Asia. Reconstructing the role and size of the slave trade within the context of the empire of the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this article provides indications for the importance of commodified forms of slavery. This challenges our understanding of forms of slavery and bondage in South and Southeast Asian context. Moving beyond the often-used conceptual model of "open" and "closed" systems of slavery, this article explores the Dutch case to argue for a renewal of our understanding of the variety forms of slavery and coercion by distinguishing between localizing and mobilizing systems. Proposing this distinction as a way forward in exploring the global history of slavery, the article indicates that these systems not only existed side by side but were closely intertwined and interacting with each other.