A new book by Wim Klooster and Gert Oostindie, Realm between Empires: The Second Dutch Atlantic, 1680-1815 (Cornell University Press, 2018) presents a fresh look at the Dutch Atlantic after New Netherland.
This epoch (1680–1815), the authors argue, marked a distinct and significant era in which Dutch military power declined and Dutch colonies began to chart a more autonomous path.
The loss of Brazil and New Netherland were twin blows to Dutch imperial pretensions. Yet the Dutch Atlantic hardly faded into insignificance. Instead, the influence of the Dutch remained, as they were increasingly drawn into the imperial systems of Britain, Spain, and France.
In their synthetic and comparative history, Klooster and Oostindie reveal the fragmented identity and interconnectedness of the Dutch in three Atlantic theaters: West Africa, Guiana, and the insular Caribbean.
They show that the colonies and trading posts were heterogeneous in their governance, religious profiles, and ethnic compositions and were marked by creolization. Even as colonial control weakened, the imprint of Dutch political, economic, and cultural authority would mark territories around the Atlantic for decades to come.
Realm between Empires is a revisionist history of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world and provides a counterpoint to the more widely known British and French Atlantic histories.
Wim Klooster is Professor of History at Clark University. He is author of, among other books, The Dutch Moment: War, Trade, and Settlement in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World.
Gert Oostindie is director of the Royal Institute of Linguistics and Anthropology (KITLV) in Leiden and professor of Caribbean history at Leiden University.
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