Repackaging East Indies Natural History in François Valentyn’s Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën
Keywords:François Valentyn, natural history, colonialism, indigenous knowledge, amateurs, compilation, paper technologies
More than five hundred folio pages of François Valentyn’s multivolume description of the trading empire of the Dutch East India Company, Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën (Old and New East Indies, 1724-1726, five thousand pages in toto), are devoted to the natural history of Amboina. This essay contends that Valentyn’s nature description is not the work of a field naturalist, but rather of a scholar ordering and repackaging existing information, which was already available in a different textual format and in drawings. While the focus of this essay is on Valentyn’s compilation strategy, which targeted a non-expert readership of ‘liefhebbers’, the role of indigenous knowledge in his nature description is also discussed, arguing that it was generally subordinated to a European perspective in Valentyn’s book.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Siegfried Huigen
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