The Importance of Being a Good Employee: Georg Everhard Rumphius, the Dutch East India Company, and Knowledge in the Late Seventeenth Century
Keywords:Dutch East India Company, Rumphius, history of knowledge, secrecy
This article analyses the complex interrelation between the VOC and scholarship by investigating the relationship between the Company and Georg Everhard Rumphius (1627-1702). First, it will consider the line Rumphius drew between himself as scholar and as a VOC employee. Secondly, the Company’s policy of secrecy is scrutinised in order to show how and to what extent it was in conflict with the habit of sharing knowledge and objects in the Republic of Letters. The third facet examines how the VOC context influenced Rumphius’s scholarly work and how his scholarly ambitions shaped some of his occupational writings. Building on these three aspects, this article argues that it was of paramount importance for Rumphius to maintain the image of his being a ‘good employee’ in order to obtain assistance from influential people within the VOC that might allow him to achieve his scholarly goals. However, the case of Rumphius also proves that doing research under the auspices of the Company came at a price, because in the process he lost all control over his works.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Susanne Friedrich
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