Who Is Leonard Blusse´s Visible Cities?

Words: 1346
Pages: 6

(a.1) One of Leonard Blusse’s convincing arguments in “Visible Cities: Canton, Nagasaki, and Batavia and the Coming of the Americans” is that government intervention and restriction in the trade of early modern states was detrimental to their economies. He uses general economic fluctuations in early modern Asian countries along with the port city of Batavia in Indonesia to demonstrate this. Blusse argues that the economic relations between Asian countries have only been studied through the view of the tributary system. According to him, by doing so historians have narrow insight on the actual relations. They are looking at the relations as they “should be” rather than how they actually were.
In reality, trade flourished in Asian countries when governments gave autonomy to private traders and loosened their maritime bans. Prior to the seventeenth century, China and Japan exercised much restraint over foreign trade in their regimes. These countries soon had to adjust to the global
…show more content…
He quotes the Heren XVII of the VOC: “…no great attention should be paid to the question of reputation and honor [in the Asian countries], which is often taken too seriously…”. Blusse argues that profit was most important to Holland and the VOC, and other European countries worried more about honour rituals. It is interesting that Blusse argues this when he mentions the honour rituals many times in his book. Many points that Blusse makes contradict his argument that the Dutch disregarded honour rituals. For example, the Dutch had a strong hold on many Asian ports and trade networks. Their compliance to local traditions and customs such as honour rituals seemed to help them keep this hold. Also, on the same page he quotes the Heren XVII, the author also states that “…the Dutch learned to tune in to the prevailing customs and practices of the Asian