National and EU grants awarded for 2012.
Catia Antunes received the prestigious ERC Grant for her Research Project "Fighting Monopolies, Defying Empires 1500-1750: a Comparative Overview of Free Agents and Informal Empires in Western Europe and the Ottoman Empire."
Manon van der Heijden
Institute for History
What do you mean, women are less likely to become criminals?
Do women the world over actually commit fewer crimes than men? This investigation will demonstrate that this static view is incorrect, and makes a connection between the public roles played by men and their share in Europe’s criminality between 1660 and 1990.
Mirjam de Bruijn
Institute for History & ASC
Connecting in Times of Duress: Understanding Communication and Conflict in Middle Africa’s Mobile Margins.
This research programme seeks to understand the dynamics in the relationship between social media, mobile telephony and the social fabric under duress in Africa’s mobile margins. It combines studies on mobility/migration, conflict and communication in an attempt to uncover these new dynamics, which have been so evident in North Africa and the Middle East in 2011. Societies under duress are characterized by long periods of war or repression that lead to mobilities (forced or economic) and marginality. People who live in such circumstances have to manoeuvre between oppressive structures and possibilities to communicate, which are often informed by violence, fear and poverty. The introduction of new ICT is enhancing information flows and communication between people and this is expected to lead to social change and to influence the social fabric in its (re)forming of communities and the construction of identity and feelings of belonging, which will increasingly differentiate social groups. The study is situated in northern Middle Africa (Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon and eastern Nigeria). The proposed methodology is interdisciplinary (anthropology, history, communication studies, conflict studies and social geography), historical-ethnographic and comparative, involving regional sub-projects among diverse mobile populations in urban centres, refugee camps and remote rural areas. Film and photography will also form part of the methodology, acting as a form of communication between researchers, local communities and stakeholders and will result in a documentary. The study contributes to the development of a theory of connections. The findings will enhance our understanding of conflict dynamics and further the debate on the role of social media and ICT in conflict and post-conflict societies. Workshops and conferences in Africa and Europe will guarantee regular exchanges between policy makers and academia.
Institute for History
Challenging Monopolies, Building Global Empires in the Early Modern period
How did “free agents” in the Dutch Republic react to the creation of colonial monopolies (VOC and WIC) by the States General? This proposal will answer this question by looking at the role individuals played in the construction of an informal global empire parallel to the institutional empire devised by the States General and enabled by the chartered monopolies.
Even though traditional historiography underlines the role institutionalized monopolies played in building empires, the paper trail produced by central states, colonial administrations, commercial companies and notaries reveal an alternative narrative of empire. Even though commercial monopolies were the cornerstone of empire building during most of the Early Modern period, monopolies were permanently challenged, adjudicated, rented out, co-opted or simply hijacked by free agents (the Spanish asientos, the Portuguese contractos, the English East India Company or the French royal monopolies and companies are cases in point).
Free agents came into conflict with the Companies from the very beginning of the monopolies. We hypothesize that the interactions between free agents and the Companies took different forms, from open conflict, to cooperation and, at times, even representation resulting in an informal empire.
The informal empire brought about by the individual choices of free agents and their networks was a borderless, self-organized, often cross-cultural, multi-ethnic, pluri-national and stateless world that can only be characterized as global. How does the Dutch experience of informal empire building compare to the same sort of process taking place in Portugal, Spain, England and France? This comparative approach will bring to the fore the extent to which Dutch empire building followed general Early Modern trends. It will also analyze what those trends mean for our broader understanding of empire building, in general, as an aspect of state formation/centralization and the transition from an Early Modern into a Modern society.
Digital nationalism in China
China has more internet users than the EU has residents. This has led to a vibrant online community, but also to message boards encouraging nationalist sentiments. Concentrating on the history of China and Japan, Florian Schneider will analyse how nationalism operates within the digital networks of an emerging superpower.