The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602. In 2002, its 400th anniversary was commemorated in the Netherlands with a whole series of events, exhibitions and congresses. On top of this, many books were published, partly as a direct outcome of these activities in the form of exhibition catalogues and conference proceedings. These studies are reviewed in this article and, while they do not present a completely new approach, a definite shift in focus is apparent. More attention than ever before is given to the social aspects, not just relating to the position of company employees but also with regard to the early colonial society in Batavia as well as other VOC settlements. Greater emphasis is also placed on the VOC as an ‘Asian state’ and, as a result of this, the Asian environment no longer simply provides the ‘context’ for the Company’s history but instead serves as an integral part of the history of the VOC.