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Merchant Kings: Corporate Governmentality in the Dutch Colonial Empire, 1815–1870

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Merchant Kings

Corporate Governmentality in the Dutch Colonial Empire, 1815–1870

Albert Schrauwers

348 pages, 17 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-050-2 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (April 2021)

eISBN 978-1-80073-051-9 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“Schrauwers adds new theoretical insights into studies of governmentality through the concepts of corporate governmentality and corporatization as well as his unique conceptualization of assemblage. In this light, Schrauwers’ book will be particularly useful for anthropologists, historians, and sociologists who study governmentality, capitalist modes of production, political economy, and colonial-trade history.” • Society for the Anthropology of Work

Merchant Kings presents a fascinating and detailed study of corporate practices in the nineteenth-century Dutch colonial empire. It will make an important contribution to our understanding of corporations, colonization, and capitalism.” • Joshua Barkan, University of Georgia

“A well-written and compelling book, offering a new view on the nineteenth-century economy of the Dutch Empire.” • Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, Utrecht University


In the nineteenth century, the Netherlands and its colonial holdings in Java were the sites of dramatically increased industrialization. Led by a group of “merchant kings” who exemplified gentlemanly capitalism, this ambitious trading project transformed the small, economically moribund Netherlands into a global power. Merchant Kings offers a fascinating interdisciplinary exploration of this episode and reveals not only the distinctive nature of the Dutch state, but the surprising extent to which its nascent corporate innovations were rooted in early welfare initiatives. By placing colony and metropole into a single analytical frame, this book offers a bracing new approach to understanding the development of modern corporations.

Albert Schrauwers is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto. He is the author of “Union is Strength”: W.L. Mackenzie, the Children of Peace and the Emergence of Joint Stock Democracy in Upper Canada (2009) and Colonial “Reformation” in the Highlands of Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, 1892-1995 (2000).

Subject: Colonial HistoryHistory: 18th/19th CenturyPolitical and Economic Anthropology
Area: EuropeAsia-Pacific


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