drs. E.R. (Frasie) Hertroys

  • Position:PhD Student

Office hours: Mondays and Wednesdays

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Global history, History of Dutch expansion, History of science.



September/October: course Academic skills for first-year students.


(provisional) title:

'Comparing the Society of Jesus and the Dutch East India Company as intermediaries in the circulation of knowledge about China, ca. 1680-1800.'

This research explores the circulation of knowledge being carried from China to Europe by Jesuits and Dutch merchants during the eighteenth century. How information from China traveled to Europe is an extraordinary story as only missionaries and merchants under limited conditions were allowed to enter China. Among these middlemen supplying eager Europeans with information, the most important actors at the beginning of the century were the Society of Jesus and the Dutch East India Company (VOC). 

Developments both overseas and at home make this less explored period a very interesting one; European scholars were eager to acquire Chinese objects and to learn from Chinese qualities such as their medicinal knowledge and agricultural strategies. By consequence, Europe witnessed an increasing and large-scale import of goods and ideas from China, which changed Western society profoundly. At the same time, in China the position of both the Jesuit Order and the Dutch company  weakened until the Pope abolished the Order in 1773 while the VOC went bankrupt at the end of the century. A comparison between these organisations as two ‘non-scientific’ and exceptionally well organized information agencies, in the light of fore-mentioned changes, may provide insight in the complex combination of religious, commercial and social interests that shaped the process of early modern circulation of knowledge about China.

The following questions are to be answered: what kind of knowledge was gathered? How was collection and transfer of knowledge managed? Along which ways was knowledge transported to Europe and to what extent did cooperation or exchange between the Jesuit Order and the VOC take place? How was knowledge disseminated within Europe? And what possible explanations can be given for developments in the circulation of knowledge of the two organizations?

Professional activities


  • Conference of PhD students in the history of science, 22-23 January in Rolduc, The Netherlands.


  • Work in progress-seminar of the N.W. Posthumus Institute, 10-11 March in Amsterdam.
  • World History Association Conference, 25-29 June in London.
  • Research Design Course of ESTER/GLOBALEURONET and the N.W. Posthumus Institute, 1-4 September in Budapest.
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