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Antiquarian Ambonese: François Valentyn's Comparative Ethnography (1724)

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Chapter Summary

François Valentyn's multivolume Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën ('Old and New East Indies', 1724-1726) contains two pages with the proud words of the Alifuru (Alfoer) 'king' Pelimao (177-8). The subaltern other, about whom colonial texts usually speak, seems to be speaking himself and moreover defends himself convincingly. The Pelimao incident played an important role in Valentyn 's objectives. "Van de Amboineesen" is the most ambitious and most extensive of the ethnographic accounts in Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indiën. Valentyn 's ethnological interpretation, equating Ambonese toilet habits with those of Jewish people in the Old Testament, had implications for the meaning of the biblical narrative. Valentyn uses the Pelimao incident mainly to convey the intellectual abilities of the inhabitants of Ambon.

Keywords: colonial texts; François Valentyn; Jewish people; Van de Amboineesen



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