Saturday, April 21, 2007

Andrade on the Chinese Settlement of Taiwan

I'm in the midst of Tonio Andrade's book on how settlers from China moved over to Taiwan to eventually become the Taiwanese. Except for its ugly and ill-considered title, this is an absolutely wonderful work, a narrative that functions at many levels, extremely accessible, shaped by an insightful framework on how trade shapes history....
Before we meet the pirates and samurai, let us get acquainted with the company's base on Taiwan: the Bay of Tayouan (大員), near today's Tainan City. Although it gave Taiwan its modern name, the bay itself no longer exists. Over the centuries it has been filled in by silt from the rivers of the western plains. Today the remains of the Dutch fortress are far from the ocean. Fortunately our fugitive, Salvador Diaz, told Portuguese officials all about it, and his detailed description allows us to imagine the bay as it existed under early Dutch rule.

Diaz describes the bay as "a large cove penetrating inland more than two leagues from west to east." Its waters were shallow and filled with sandbars, making navigation difficult, especially for deep-drawing European ships. The seaward arm of the bay was a long, narrow peninsula, which stretched northward and then made an abrupt turn, pointing landward like a crooked finger. At the crook crouched a few low hills, and it was here that Chinese laborers built the Dutch fortress. Fort Zeelandia had "four square bulwarks which command the sea beyond as well as the bay and its entrance." The fortress, made of brick, was surrounded by stone-reinforced earthworks. Beneath it, at the entrance of the bay, was a village "of Chinese fishers, pirates [ladroes], and traders . . . in front of which the ships of the Chinese dock, bringing textiles, food, fish, and other things to sell."

Andrew Leonard gave instructions on how to get a PDF:

PDF files? Yes, what began as Andrade's dissertation is now an e-book published by the Columbia University Press and American Historical Association's' Gutenberg-e, an online-only imprint designed to highlight the best work of "junior scholars" in history, and in so doing, possibly rescue the historical monograph from a premature death. Subscription to Gutenberg-e for just one book costs a whopping $49, which strikes me as completely outrageous, but luckily, there is a one-week free trial available for anyone who is curious as to how the habits of aborigine headhunters in 16th century Taiwan were affected by Fujianese immigration.

1 comment:

Andrew Leonard said...

Michael, I'm so glad you're enjoying Andrade's book!