Dr Adam Clulow awarded 2016 W.K. Hancock Prize

Clulow-cover-image-3Many congratulations to Dr Adam Clulow, who was awarded the 2016 W.K. Hancock Prize at the Australian Historical Association Conference last week. 

The W.K. Hancock Prize recognises and encourages an Australian scholar who has published a first book in any field of history in 2014 or 2015. Adam was awarded the prize for his monograph, The Company and The Shogun: The Dutch Encounter with Tokugawa Japan (Columbia University Press, 2014).

The citation reads:

In the broadest sense, The Shogun and the Company deals masterfully with how European colonialism worked on the ground in Asia. Innovatively organized around key diplomatic incidents or moments of conflict between the Dutch East India Company and Japan’s Tokugama regime in the two centuries after 1609, the book shows that would-be colonizers were forced to accommodate themselves to the expectations, protocols, and requirements of a powerful Asian state, and not the other way around.

Disrupting historiographical assumptions about the inevitability of European domination, Clulow provides a riveting account of the difficulties of cross-cultural diplomacy in the early modern era, focusing on moments of failure or misunderstanding rather than success. He reveals a context in which Dutch military technology was rarely decisive, and one in which Dutch attempts to claim sovereignty in Asia were undercut by overlapping claims on both land and sea. 

Built on transcribed sources in multiple languages and making its arguments through comparisons and counter-examples from far afield, Clulow’s work is both brilliantly original and impressively synthetic.