First Spaces of Colonialism: Architecture, Space, and Society of the Ships of the Dutch East India Company, 1740-1795


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History of Architecture


This dissertation inquires into the spatial aspects of control, resistance, and communication in the Dutch East India Company (VOC), as revealed by the architecture of its ships, 1740-1790. Both the general class of East Indiamen and several individual case studies are considered. Official discourses on shipboard order and design (from VOC records, plans, shipbuilding treatises, Articles of Employment, instructions for officers and ships’ logs and accounts) are combined with sources for VOC seafarers’ spatial practices and largely unacknowledged seafaring traditions, especially mutiny trial documents and shipwreck narratives. These records are analyzed to understand how space use aboard contributed to the VOC’s social order and to the image it projected to its servants, trade partners, and competitors.