chapter  32
12 Pages

Gender in Batavia

Asian City, European Company Town
WithJean Gelman Taylor

Batavia had been founded by the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) in 1619 at a point on Java's north coast where trade routes within the Indonesian archipelago linked up with sea highways connecting China, India, the Middle East and Europe. Uniquely, Batavia was built on territory wrested from its Indonesian ruler. The Company, headquartered in Amsterdam, envisioned Batavia as chief city of its operations in Asia. This chapter applies the lens of gender to the homogenising labels to bring another layer of understanding to the rich insights generated from urban design. To demonstrate the complexities and nuances that a gender orientation offers, the chapter pays particular attention to Batavia's Dutch and their relationships with the city's free and enslaved Asian inhabitants. The VOC's directors originally intended to develop Batavia as a colony of Dutch settlers by sending out male and female migrants alongside its male Company employees.