Botanical Knowledge in Early Modern Malabar and the Netherlands: A Review of Van Reede's Hortus Malabaricus

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    This essay is a case study about information gathering and knowledge production in early modern Malabar and the Netherlands with the aim to review the historiography about the making of the Hortus Malabaricus. It focuses on the making of the twelve volumes of the Hortus Malabaricus and analyses the different stages of its production as well as the role of a Dutch servant of the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) in transforming information from Malabar into European knowledge. Why Malabar did not equally benefit from the exchange of information? We shall assess Dutch overseas expansion and the impact of trade in global knowledge production, and discuss why Europe has allegedly led the path in the making of early modern science, since approximately 1500. While several scholars embrace the idea of ‘the rise of Europe’, others, first and foremost André Gunder Frank, have called for a review of this subject. We will employ this case study to further elucidate certain aspects of knowledge production and the ‘great divergence’ in economic conditions of South Asia and Europe which started to become evident in the mid-eighteenth century. While comparing the social and economic conditions in Malabar and the Netherlands, we will attempt to understand why a centralisation of knowledge took place in the Netherlands and not in Malabar.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTransformations of Knowledge in Dutch Expansion
    Place of PublicationBerlin
    PublisherDe Gruyter
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-11-039146-6
    ISBN (Print)978-3-11-037096-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Publication series

    NamePluralisierung & Autorität
    PublisherDe Gruyter
    ISSN (Print)2076-8281


    • Early Modern Global History
    • Botanical Knowledge
    • Kerala-India-South Asia
    • Dutch in India
    • Bioprospecting

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