Principled Pragmatism: VOC Interaction with Makassar 1637-68, and the Nature of Company Diplomacy

Carl Fredrik Feddersen


In this study of the Dutch East India Company the author uses the Company’s seventeenth century diplomatic interaction with the trading Sultanate of Macassar, on the southwestern tip of present day Sulawesi, as a case in cross cultural diplomacy. The author argues that the outlook of the Company’s agents both home and overseas was pragmatic, as was the nature of the solutions to the problems they faced. In doing so, the author challenges propositions of Company ethnocentric tunnel vision in its thinking about, and practice of overseas diplomacy. He also run counter with propositions that the communication between Company agents and their Asian friends and foes represented a miscommunication caused by structural cultural barriers. The study is based on analysis of the political language of the Company at the respective levels of operation.


I denne studien av Det nederlandsk-ostindiske kompani tilbakeviser forfatteren tidligere påstander om Kompaniets diplomatiske tankemåte og praksis. Gjennom en analyse av den diplomatiske interaksjonen mellom Kompaniet og Sultanatet Makassar (sør på dagens Sulawesi) gjendrives påstander om at et etnosentrisk tunnelsyn formet Kompaniets oversjøisk diplomati. Gjennom en dekoding av Kompaniets politiske språk, slår forfatteren fast at Kompaniet tvert imot fremstod som pragmatisk og primært la til grunn vurderinger av lokale maktpolitiske forhold i sin interaksjon med de lokale makthaverne.


Author Biography

Carl Fredrik Feddersen

Cand.philol, Univerisity of Bergen 1990, Thesis: Perry Andersons teori om kapitalismens opphav (Perry Anderson’s theory on the origins of capitalism). Assistant professor at Agder University College/University of Agder from 1992, Early modern European-, Global- and European maritime history. Guest researcher at Leiden University 1997 – 1998. Promotion for the degree of Doctorate, University of Leiden 2016.

Cover Image
October 11, 2017


Details about the available publication format: PDF


Details about the available publication format: EPUB


Details about the available publication format: HTML


Details about the available publication format: XML