Visions of Empire in Dutch History

Awarded to Dr. Anne-Isabelle Richard (History). September 29-30, 2016. Leiden.

The last two decades have witnessed an increasing interest in the history of the thinking about "empire". Broadly speaking, the concept of empire has come to refer to colonial imperialism (overseas and continental), trading imperialism, the institutions and practices associated with those forms of imperialism, as well as more informal manifestations of imperialism. On a global scale, one of the most significant imperial powers in (early) modern history was the Dutch empire, which between the early seventeenth century and the late twentieth century was a hothouse of global interactions. It engaged in worldwide commercial and scientific exchange, intercontinental slavery and migration, interacting with peoples and states from South-East Asia to the Caribbean.

Given the blossoming of separate studies regarding Dutch imperial history, the recent theoretical and historiographical innovations, and at the same time the lack of more comprehensive long-term perspectives, this seems to be an excellent moment to seize the opportunity to bring together a number of experts in the field in order to take the study of Dutch visions of empire a step further.

What were the major developments in the history of thinking about empire in Dutch history in the period 1500-2000? What visions of the purpose, need, form, organization and nature of an overseas or colonial empire have been formulated throughout the centuries? What moral, political, and economic arguments have been put forth to justify an empire – or reform or resist it? How and under what circumstances did these visions and arguments change or remain the same?

The advanced seminar and the resulting edited volume seek to examine these questions over the long term, from the early modern period to the twenty-first century, and from an explicitly interdisciplinary perspective, connecting history with international law, political economy and political science. The main focus is the long-term development of thinking about empire in Dutch history, but the historical study of this topic evidently suggests global interactions across various empires and disciplines. We explicitly aim to critically engage with recent historiographical and theoretical developments concerning the study of empire. In order to make this area of research relevant for a wider international audience, we encourage contributors to draw comparisons with other empires (both European and non-European) and have therefore also invited scholars whose work covers other empires besides the Dutch empire.


Tim Harper (University of Cambridge)
Andrew Fitzmaurice (University of Sydney)
René Koekkoek (University of Amsterdam)
Anne-Isabelle Richard (Leiden University)
Arthur Weststeijn (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome)
Karwan Fatah-Black (Leiden University)
Tim Harper (University of Cambridge)
Andrew Fitzmaurice (University of Sydney)
Susan Legêne (VU Amsterdam)
Janne Nijman (University of Amsterdam)
Philip Stern (Duke University)
Alicia Schrikker (Leiden University)
Sanne Ravensbergen (Leiden University)
Jennifer Foray (Purdue University)
Matthias van Rossum (IISH, Amsterdam)
Pernille Roge (University of Pittsburgh)
Chair: Crystal Ennis (Leiden University)
Catia Antunes (Leiden University)
Thomas Lindblad (Leiden University)
Chair: Mariana Françozo (Leiden University)
Benjamin Schmidt (University of Washington)
Marieke Bloembergen (KITLV, Leiden)
Elizabeth Buettner (University of Amsterdam)Remco Raben (Utrecht University)
Paul Bijl (University of Amsterdam)

Last Modified: 25-11-2016