Spaces on Ships

Secrecy and Privacy in the Dutch East India Companies


  • Djoeke van Netten University of Amterdam



East India Company, VOC, Privacy


Djoeke van Netten examines the interplay between privacy and secrecy in the ships of the Dutch East India Companies (1595-1799). Space aboard a ship was scarce and privacy a rare privilege. Netten starts with a discussion of the sources available as well as those lost to history. She then continues by examining what can be known about the protection of and access to (secret) information and (private) belongings aboard ships. Cases where privacy was violated and secrets revealed emerge as some of the most informative historical events to be examined in this context. As she confronts her historical examples with relevant theoretical and historiographical concepts, she concludes by raising important questions for further research on privacy and secrecy aboard ships.


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Author Biography

Djoeke van Netten, University of Amterdam

Djoeke van Netten (1980) is a senior lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Amsterdam. She works on the crossroads of the history of knowledge and maritime history, with a focus on printed books and maps. Recently she has researched and published several articles on secrecy and openness, especially on the Early Dutch East-India Companies.




How to Cite

van Netten, D. (2021). Spaces on Ships: Secrecy and Privacy in the Dutch East India Companies. TSEG - The Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History, 18(3), 107–124.