Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




Karin Wulf

Committee Member

Nicolas Popper

Committee Member

Fabricio Prado


“The Role of Knowledges in Commodification: Salt Production in the Early Modern Atlantic” What is the role of knowledge in the production of a commodity? More specifically, what was the role of knowledge in the extraction, refinement, and trade of salt in Dutch Curaçao and Bonaire in the seventeenth century? To find this answer, I closely analyze the complied and translated primary sources in The Curaçao Papers 1640-1665, supplemented by correspondences between Dutch director-general Peter Stuyvesant and West India Company officials in Amsterdam. The commodification of salt was a long process, spanning outwards temporally and geographically. Fifteenth century Baltic trade in pickled herring gave the Dutch valuable experience working with and selling this resource, and once the Hapsburg monarchy closed off their Iberian saltpans to the Dutch in the late sixteenth century. Netherlanders were forced to cross the Atlantic for new sources. I argue that once in possession of the Caribbean islands of Curaçao and Bonaire, the Dutch utilized their knowledge of the environment, salt refining, and global and market intelligence to transform this natural resource into a profitable commodity. “Beyond Empire: Reconceptualizing the Early Modern Dutch Atlantic” How does the category of “world” fit into a Dutch Atlantic historiography that has traditionally been told in terms of “empire” and “nation”? Emphasizing a Dutch “world” in the Atlantic rather than a Dutch “empire” provides insights into the understudied connections that ran between Dutch colonies in the Americas and Caribbean while simultaneously changing the way scholars discuss the role of Africans, Sephardic Jews, and Indigenous groups in these regions as being separate from the “Dutch experience.” Furthermore, making the distinction between “world” and “empire” allows for an investigation into the latter term’s restrictive implications for the field’s current historiography.




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