Global Interactions awards 4 grants to Leiden researchers

From the 2016 spring pool of applications, GI has awarded 4 grants to 5 Leiden researchers: Nira Wickramasinghe (LIAS-SAS), Alicia Schrikker (History), Bart Barendregt (CA-DS), Anne-Isabelle Richard (History) and Michelle Carmody (History & Latin American Studies).

'Being a Slave': Indian Ocean Slavery in Local Context (Seed Grant)

Project Coordinators:
Prof.dr. Nira Wickramasinghe (LIAS)
Dr. Alicia Schrikker (History)
Grant amount: €4750

What did it mean to be enslaved in in the Indian Ocean world in the 18th and 19th centuries? Over the last decades, historians have mined French, British, Portuguese and Dutch records for quantitative data on the European slave trade. This project focuses on the experience of being a slave and seeks qualitative data to recover ordinary lives and, crucially, to place this experience in its Asian local context. The emphasis is on the origin and afterlife of enslavement, rather than the trade in slaves itself. Slave occupations were diverse and varied according to location: from domestic service, to construction, food cultivation and animal herding; they worked as sailors and fishermen, or in artisanal occupations ranging from distilleries to saltpeter manufacturing. We know very little however on their lives outside of labour. How do experiences from the Indian Ocean world add to the debate over ‘social death’ (Patterson) observed in Atlantic slavery by some scholars? This project will strive to force the archive in order to extract traces of these subaltern lives from court records, petitions or private letters and to listen to local voices by prying unexplored primary sources such as oral histories and memories.

Project activities include an international interdisciplinary workshop in June 2017, a joint article and further grant applications.

For more information please contact:
Nira Wickramasinghe at:
Alicia Schrikker at

Visions of Empire in Dutch History from the Early Modern Period to the Twenty-First Century (Advanced Seminar)

GI Advanced Seminar
Leiden University, 29-30 September 2016

Dr. Anne-Isabelle Richard (History, Leiden University)
René Koekkoek MPhil (Uthrecht University)
Dr. Arthur Weststeijn (Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome)

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.

Confirmed Participants (as of May 2016):
Prof. Andrew Fitzmaurice (University of Sydney)
Dr. Tim Harper (Cambridge University)

Prof. Benjamin Schmidt (University of Washington)
Dr. Philip Stern (Duke University)
Dr. Pernille Røge (Pittsburgh University)
Prof. Elisabeth Buettner (Amsterdam)
Dr. Remco Raben (Utrecht)

Resonating Pasts (Breed Grant)

Project Coordinators:
Dr. Bart Barendregt (CA-DS)
Dr. Wayne Modest (RCMC)

Annette Hoffmann (Independent Scholar and Curator, Berlin)

Grant amount: €26.600

Resonating Pasts: Initiating critical engagement with and developing curatorial strategies for the acoustic and semantic content of sound collections from the ethnographic museum

From the late 18th century ethnographers, folklorists, linguists and musicologists have recorded music and spoken texts with non-European people, with the aim to conserve, analyze and classify languages, music and orally transmitted texts. The result of such endeavors of acoustic preservation is vast collections of historical sound recordings in larger ethnographic museums in Europe and the US. In a strategic move to grant acoustic collections the status of resonating (museum) objects and potential sources of history, this project explores how focusing on the sound archives in the (ethnographic) museums can push beyond the over-determined place that the visual so far has generally held in museum exhibits. We seek to de-privilege the well-established emphasis on the visual, in ‘autopsies’ of the past and as the primary mode of epistemological and curatorial engagement by also including other senses, namely that of hearing/listening. In this sense this project opens onto more recent scholarship on the multisensory museum, foregrounding the auditory as essential to the museum experience.

It is our contention that these collection of sounds, music, and spoken word, the ways they were collected and came to represent certain ideas and concepts, may speak to dimensions of the Dutch/European colonial project that hitherto have escaped scholarly attention. In order to emphasize this potential of the sound archive, and its possible role in rewriting colonial histories, we want to invite colleagues from European museums and other institutions working on comparable colonial sound collections to develop methodologies to critically engage with the acoustic and semantic contents of these archival materials.

Expected output: Application for NWO Vrije Competitie (2017), exhibition proposal Feeling Sound, plus teaching module for either honours or PhD students on Sound Cultures.

Collaboration in a time of Isolation (Breed Grant)

Dr. Michelle Carmody (History, Latin American Studies)
Grant amount: teaching buyout January to June 2017

Project Title: Collaboration in a time of Isolation: Right-Wing regimes and the Development of a Common Security Agenda during the Cold War

The final two decades of the Cold War was a tough time for non-democratic regimes on both sides of the South Atlantic. Caught between the continued threat of communism across the region and the rise of human rights pressures at the international level, right-wing actors in places like Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and South Africa felt themselves diplomatically shunned by the West and under siege by the East. South Africa, increasingly isolated since the Sharpeville Massacre, responded by making a concerted effort to cultivate relationships with potentially sympathetic peers across the Atlantic ocean from the mid-1960s onwards. In the context of increasing diplomatic isolation from the rest of the world, certain actors within these countries sought closer alliances with each other, collaborating on military and counter-insurgency techniques, as well as proposing the establishment of a common security agenda and the creation of a South Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The South Atlantic as a space of political interaction during the Cold War has generally been overlooked in favor of connections across the northern part of the ocean. Recent work on transnational solidarity movements and left-wing interaction between socialist Cuba, Angola and Mozambique has begun to address South-South connections, allowing for an understanding of the common development of political ideas and a transnational political community in the periphery. But apart from a well-developed understanding of the role of the US in supporting repressive and authoritarian political projects, right wing networks and the ideas and practices that they fomented have been largely overlooked.

This project aims to address this by looking at the relationships forged between South Africa and the Southern Cone countries of Chile, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina during the Cold War.

In particular, I will look at these interactions for evidence of the development of Cold War-era notions of security and common political interest, and how these notions were impacted by the broader changes occurring at the international level. I am interested in constructing a historical ethnography that captures the shifts in right-wing, non-democratic political culture during the late Cold War, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between these shifts and the practice of national security, south-south collaboration, human rights and regime change.

The Breed grant will be used to support a teaching buyout, in which I will develop a grant proposal for the deeper development of this project. Some of the questions that motivate the project currently include,

Why and how did third world right wing actors come together and develop relationship of mutual assistance, independently of the US, during this period? What do these collaborations tell us about the vision these actors had for the future of their respective regions in the final decade (s) of the Cold War? In particular, what vision for the world did these non-democratic regimes hold, and how did they see the international system evolving in the late 20th century? How did these non-democratic actors understand, responded to, and resisted the developments of the late Cold War?


Last Modified: 14-09-2016