“Unfree Intimacies: Gender and the Taking of Terraqueous Space at Batavia in the Seventeenth Century”
Colonization is not a one-time land grab, but rather an ongoing process of claiming space. Batavia, as the Dutch urban port city on Java in the seventeenth century was known, provides an opportunity to explore the role of gender in this unfolding process. There, the appropriation of local and regional terraqueous space relied on a simultaneous colonization of intimate space. Women of Batavia, as wives, concubines, and slaves, played an often-unwilling role in the construction of empire at the intimate, local, and transoceanic scales.
Susanah Romney is an Assistant Professor in the History Department at New York University. She teaches courses on Atlantic history, early America, and Women and Gender. She earned her Ph.D. at Cornell University and her BA at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is the author of New Netherland Connections: Intimate Networks and Atlantic Ties in Seventeenth-Century America, which was the winner of the Jamestown Prize, the Hendricks Award, and the First Book Prize from the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She is currently at work on a study of gender, unfreedom, and claims to space in the seventeenth-century Dutch empire, focusing on Manhattan, Guayana, Java, and southern Africa. Her work helps uncover the roots of the racial and gender hierarchies that developed alongside the first global trade networks.