Towards a Feudal Mode of Production

West Java, 1680-1800

by Mason C. Hoadley

  • Published:
  • Pages: 253 pp.
Available from NIAS Press worldwide
Describes how the VOC's quest for saleable tropical goods transformed Javanese society, showing that the impact of the 18th-century Dutch-Javanese joint venture anticipated the Cultivation System, and that the VOC did not work within a pre-existing Javanese "feudal" system; it created one.
This book shows how the quest of the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) for saleable tropical goods transformed Javanese society. The mechanism was potentates' attraction to financial gains, not force. Administrative depedence on local Javanese officials proved greater than Company need for effective suppliers of merchandise, ultimately resulting in limitations on Chinese-origin entrepreneurs. The impact of the Dutch-Javanese joint venture of the eighteenth century anticipated developments more commonly ascribed to the Cultivation System of the nineteenth century. These included incorporating local potentates within Dutch officialdom, creating village units of production, replacing swidden cultivation by a combination of wet (sawah) and dry (coffee) terraces resulting in demographic shifts to work them, and transforming the taxation basis from control over manpower to one based on ownership rights in productive land, thereby making possible tax/corvee obligations. The Dutch Company did not work within a pre-existing Javanese "feudal" system; it created one.

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