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Seized by rumours. Intelligence networks in the Dutch colonial state


Admission requirements

Reading of 19th century handwriting is required. Most lectures will be given in the National Archives in The Hague.


The colonial authorities in Nederlands-Indie were keen on knowing the credibility of rumours that circulated in the colony. These rumours were seen as a potential threat for stability. In the colony. The central goal of this seminar is to find out how the colonial state dealt with the constant threat of rumours? We give special attention to the role of information gathering and information exchange by the authorities to find out the credibility of the rumours.
Questions we try to answer in this seminar: how did 19th and early 20th century civil servants in the Indies collect information from indigenous communities, movements and people? How did they make use of indigenous informants? For whom did these civil servants collect information? How did they report to their superiors? How did the colonial authorities organize an effective exchange of this kind of (secret) information between Den Haag and Batavia?
By analyzing the archives, the information gathering activities and instructions of the civil servants, we attempt to discover what goes on behind the scenes of the intelligence activities.
The student independently goes in search of the institutional background of archives creation in the 19th and 20th century archives.

Course objectives

The first aim of this research seminar is to gain insight into the role, significance and purposes of information, information gathering, information-exchange, archives creation and knowledge systems of the colonial state. The second aim is to discover how the process of information-gathering was organized in the 19th century.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Lecture, study of literature and study of archival documents.

Assessment method

Presentation & participation (20%) and paper (80%)



Reading list

To be announced.


Via uSis.

Contact information

E-mail: Prof.dr. K.J.P.F.M. Jeurgens