Kerala government gives green signal for Cosmos Malabaricus project

The Bolgatty Palace in Kochi is considered the oldest palace built by the Dutch outside Holland. It was built by a Dutch merchant in 1744.
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The State government has officially cleared the Cosmos Malabaricus project to map the history of Kerala between 1643 and 1852 using the Dutch historical archives of the 17th century.

The Department of Higher Education has issued administrative sanction for signing an agreement between the Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), the National Archives of the Netherlands and Leiden University in Netherlands for the project.

The seven-year collaboration aims to shed light into the history of Kerala using archival material pertaining to the Dutch East India Company available in India and the Netherlands. The total project cost estimated for the KCHR is ₹4.5 crore. Leiden University will have to meet expenses, including travel, honorarium and so on, to be spent outside India, according to the order.

Treasure trove of information

The project will make already available Dutch archival material accessible to the widest possible audience, including international and Indian scholars. The archival records written in the Dutch language of the 17th century contain a treasure trove of information related to the political and military organisations, dynastic developments, economic matters, social and religious aspects of Kerala. It is available in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Netherlands.

“We have plans to publish the archival sources in five volumes, both in Dutch and English languages. Efforts will also be made to publish it in Malayalam for the benefit of researchers and history enthusiasts in the State and outside,” said P.K. Michael Tharakan, Chairman of the KCHR.

Preliminary discussions on the project were held during the State visit of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands to India in October 2019. An agreement was reached between the National Archives of the Netherlands and the Kerala State Archives for the digitalisation of Dutch records in Kerala.

Two Indian student researchers will be sent to the Netherlands to obtain a postgraduate degree in History at Leiden University, which includes learning of Dutch language, especially Middle Dutch. Indian archivists and historians will receive training in palaeography and epigraphy and they will be familiarised with the historical context of the archival sources.

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