Department of History Seminar - Dr Roger Knight
- Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
- Location: North Terrace Campus, Napier 209
- Cost: Free
- Contact: Paul Sendziuk email@example.com
Dr Roger Knight (Visiting Research Fellow, University of Adelaide) will present a paper ‘Refracted Through the Lens of the Indies: The Scots Diaspora, Family Networks and Mercantile Business in Colonial Indonesia c.1820-1960’
REFRACTED THROUGH THE LENS OF THE INDIES: THE SCOTS DIASPORA, FAMILY NETWORKS AND MERCANTILE BUSINESS IN COLONIAL INDONESIA c. 1820-1960
G. Roger Knight, Visiting Research Fellow, Department of History
Over at least five centuries, diasporic Scots of many different backgrounds were to be found, in varying numbers and a wide variety of roles, in virtually every corner of the globe. Outside Europe itself, some of those ‘corners’ were within what was once the British imperial sphere, but others were located outside it. One such place was colonial Indonesia, aka the Dutch East Indies. ‘The Indies’ (as the Dutch invariably referred to their vast and sprawling archipelagic colony), and its principal island of Java in particular, was home for more than 150 years to a small contingent of Scots who never numbered more than a few hundred and sometimes considerably less than that.
The dominant element among them was a cohort of Scots families who gravitated, over three or more generations, around one of the colony’s leading mercantile concerns, the Maclaine Watson sugar-trading firm – a business founded in Batavia [present day Jakarta] during the 1820s and still active as late as the 1950s in the by then independent Indonesian Republic. The number of individuals involved over time amounted to only a few score men and women. My argument, however, is that despite the relatively small group of people concerned, their hitherto largely neglected story serves - along with its intrinsic interest - to enhance, nuance and complicate our understandings of the deeply segmented Scots diaspora in general.