First Spaces Of Colonialism: The Architecture Of Dutch East India Company Ships

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This dissertation is an inquiry into spatial aspects of control, resistance and communication in the Dutch East India Company (VOC), as revealed by the architecture of its ships. The architectural type of the retourschip or "homeward bounder" is described and the history of its development, 16021795 is traced, with special attention paid to the period 1740-1783, when the richest records concerning ship design were produced and the ships reached their most standardized forms. The retourschip was one of the highest technological achievements of its day and was used as an emblem for military and mercantile power by the VOC. The ship's role and meaning as an armature for the VOC's ideological constructs is examined. Ships also, in Paul Gilroy's words, constituted "microcultural, micro-political systems," with their own social and spatial orders. These orders are explored, along with their ideological uses as structuring models for VOC society. Changes to the spatial design of the retourschip through the period of the VOC's operation are linked to changes in the social structure aboard and to changes in the status of VOC mariners, officers and captains. Finally, the effects and effectiveness of the retourschip as a structuring model are interrogated using several mutinies, with special attention paid to the 1763 mutiny on the retourschip Nijenburg. The role of shipboard space in structuring mutinous actions is explored, as is the role of mutinies in forming the society of VOC mariners. Through the records of Admiralty and colonial court trials the socio-spatial order aboard the Nijenburg is closely examined both under the command of its VOC-appointed captain and under that of the mutineers, and the two conditions compared. Mutineers are shown to appropriate and subvert the VOC's socio-spatial organization, while trial records are shown to reconstruct the social categories of the ship, incorporating mutiny into the Company's dominant discourse.

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Ship; maritime; space


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Otto, Christian F

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Tagliacozzo, Eric
Powers, David Stephan

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History of Architecture and Urban Development

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Ph. D., History of Architecture and Urban Development

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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