In this day and age, the Digital Age, many believe that new technologies are instrumental in breaking boundaries, forge different partnerships, and establish new democracies. Although the way we now communicate with each other is revolutionary and changes the way we maintain social relationships, it is not unprecedented. The developments during 16 and 17th centuries were also supported by a revolutionary communication tool, namely the printing press. Beside books and maps, it was also used to print and disseminate propaganda material and pamphlets at scales never possible before.

Benjamin Schmidt, in his book Innocence Abroad: the Dutch Imagination and the New World, 1570-1670, presents an interesting idea regarding the use of such propaganda material. It goes something like this: In these pamphlets, the Dutch appropriate the position of the underdog – namely by identifying with Native Americans – in an effort to stand up to the Spanish (Catholic) domination, the Protestant could act as allies. In doing so, they paved the way for justifying dominance in trade relations with peoples in the Americas, whether peaceful or NOT.

It is time for me to delve deeper in the polder mentality…