Featuring Adam Clulow, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin Department of History.
In 1621, Japanese soldiers participated in a massive Dutch East India Company invasion of the Banda islands in Southeast Asia. Pressed into service as executioners, they were involved in the opening act of a violent campaign to pacify a key territory in the Dutch empire. Just two years later, Japanese soldiers found themselves facing the executioner’s blade as they were accused of plotting against the Company on the nearby island of Ambon. These two episodes in 1621 and 1623 encapsulate the Dutch East India Company’s shifting relationship with the Japanese recruits that it transported to Southeast Asia to wage war on its behalf. This talk will explore the Company’s short-lived experiment with recruiting Japanese military labor and how this can be located within the wider history of the Japanese diaspora in seventeenth century Southeast Asia. In the last part of the talk, I will turn to examine the surprising resilience of Japanese communities both in the Dutch overseas empire and more generally across the region.
This colloquium series is made possible by the generous support of the U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant.