Current Research (Dr. Adam Clulow)

Current Research (Dr. Adam Clulow)

Dutch chandelierAdam’s first monograph, The Company and the Shogun: The Dutch Encounter with Tokugawa Japan, will be published by Columbia University Press later this year. The book, which comes out of Adam’s dissertation research, examines the seventeenth century encounter between the Dutch East India Company (VOC) and Tokugawa Japan. The Company was a hybrid organization combining the characteristics of both corporation and state that attempted to thrust itself aggressively into an Asian political order in which it possessed no obvious place. In the process, it was transformed in multiple ways. The book’s focus is on three key issues, diplomacy, violence and sovereignty, over which the Tokugawa and the VOC clashed repeatedly. In each case, European assertions about sovereign rights and the proper nature of international relations collided with Tokugawa politics and the reality of a world dominated by Asian states. As a result, the Dutch were compelled to abandon their claims to sovereign powers and were forced to refashion themselves again and again—from subjects of a fictional monarch to loyal vassals of the shogun, from aggressive pirates to meek merchants, and from insistent defenders of colonial sovereignty over Taiwan to legal subjects of the Tokugawa state.  The attached image shows a large brass chandelier presented by the Dutch to the Japanese shogun in 1636. It forms the subject of one chapter of The Company and the Shogun and was, Adam argues, a concrete marker of Dutch devotion that was subsequently displayed in the Tokugawa regimes’s key sacred space.

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