Not everyone who is interested in the histories of commodities is able to access a library with a good collection of books, or digital resources which are behind paywalls. Fortunately, there is an increasing library of high-quality books and articles which are freely available through open-access resources, which can be read anywhere in the world.
This series of posts showcases Open Access books and articles related to the rich histories of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. If you have questions about the books, we would encourage you to get in contact, which you can do here.
The first book which we have chosen to showcase is Hans Hägerdal, Lords of the land, lords of the sea: Conflict and adaptation in early colonial Timor, 1600-1800 (Leiden, 2012). (You can download the book byclicking on "free access" just underneath it).
Hans Hägerdal is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Cultural Sciences at Linnaeus University in Sweden, and an expert on East and Southeast Asian history.This book is a history of the results of the trade in sandalwood on Timor, which attempts to “trace the indigenous political and social structures” between 1600 and 1800 (p. 4). This period was characterised by rivalry between the Portuguese and the Dutch, as well as complex interactions between these colonial powers and indigenous interests.
It gives extensive details of the island’s role in the sandalwood trade – as well as the less successful attempts to produce gold and copper.
Hägerdal describes his goals for the book as follows:
What is still needed, however, and what this book tries to achieve, is a comprehensive discussion that takes into account the entire island -- waht is today known as Indonesian Timor or Timor Leste. An account that traces both indigenous as well as colonial interests; a study which fully uses the rich archival sources that are avaialable; a text that traces not only the exploitative and oppressive features accompanying the European presence and ensuing forms of resistance, but also the forms of co-operation, partnership and mutual dependence that subsequently evolved.
Reviewing the book for the Low Countries Historical Review, Andrew McWilliam notes that:
As a common comparative thread, [Hägerdal ] draws on the compelling Austronesian mythology of the stranger king and applies it across categories in order to highlight the way many political domains Timorese continued to express allegiance to Dutch and or Portuguese powers, over long periods of time, despite the capricious, often incompetent and overbearing demands of the foreigners. [...] Students of Timor history should be well pleased with this new work from Hans Hägerdal. His ambitious and sweeping perspectives on the two centuries of early European colonial engagement in Timor and adjacent Lesser Sunda Islands, is a work of great industry, insight and sympathy to the characters, cutthroats, heroes, thieves and fools who populate the pages of this highly readable work. Hägerdal charts with equal enthusiasm and detail the unfolding of great events and political crises that periodically shifted strategic alignments, as well as the minutiae of everyday life and intricate details of social practice in seventeenth and eighteenth century Timor.
Commodity type: sandalwood
Researcher: Hans Hägerdal