The Dream of Cornelis Chastelein
- PUBLISHED: March 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / Southeast Asia, History, Native American and Indigenous Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 200 Pages, 6.5 x 9.5 in, 60 color illus.
- ISBN: 9789460225208
Cornelis Chastelein was a successful 17th century Huguenot merchant in the Dutch East Indies. He was opposed to slavery and upon his death in 1714, he willed his estate at Depok in collective ownership, in perpetuity, to his one hundred and fifty slaves, who had converted to Christianity and were therefore emancipated. In a codicil to his will, Chastelein set out detailed instructions on how the estate was to be managed, including his wish that his emancipated slaves use it to make an "honest living and not be dependent on alms". Depok Slaves presents a case study of slavery in Southeast Asia, which is less studied even though it outstripped in numbers Dutch trans-Atlantic slavery. Slaves often comprised over fifty percent of the population of Batavia, and were one of the most important sources of labor during the 17th and early 18th centuries. This book presents Chastelein’s legacy embedded in the context of his life and times.
The story continues into the 19th century, when Reformed churchmen broadened the Depokker community's spiritual, cultural, and economic outlook, opening a Christian Dutch language school in 1873. Ironically, in the 20th century, the Depokker's education and land ownership gave them official recognition as gelijkgesteld (equal to Europeans). Labelled Belanda Depok and considered pro-Dutch, they were targets of violent attacks during the October 1945 Indonesian Revolution for Independence. Oral histories from the current descendants of the Depokker slaves, combined with stunning portraits of renowned documentary photographer Geert Snoeijer, make this an essential volume for understanding the legacy of colonization and slavery in Southeast Asia.
Authors & Contributors
Geert Snoeijer is a Dutch photojournalist. His previous project Vêrlander, Orphans of the VOC, documenting the interaction between Dutch colonial rule and indigenous communities during the 17th and 18th centuries, was exhibited in South Africa, Australia, and the Netherlands.