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Sponsored Research

Global Interactions sponsors a number of research projects of Leiden University researchers.

Seed Grants

Grantee: Dr Léon Buskens

Islam and Heritage in Africa and Asia - a panel at the conference “Africa and Asia. A New Axis of Knowledge –Second Edition”, University of Dar Es Salam, 20-22 September 2018

This workshop aims at comparing the multiple relations between Islam and heritage in diverse societies in Africa and Asia. Two lines of research are privileged.

First of all we present case studies of attitudes of Muslims towards pre-Islamic heritage or of non-Muslim minorities. The destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan by the Taliban comes almost immediately to mind in this respect. However, iconoclasm is only one possible attitude among many. From Indonesia we know of many examples of Hindu temples which have been incorporated in mosques and shrines, such as the famous pilgrimage site in Kudus (Central Java). In West-Africa various rituals fusing masquerading and Islamic celebrations are documented. What is often labelled “syncretism” may refer to creative processes of identity construction. Through case studies different approaches existing in Muslim societies will be analysed.

A second line of research focuses on practices of Islam as heritage. The cases in which Islamic heritage is used to legitimise the exercise of power are numerous, varying from contemporary Saudi policies towards the pilgrimage to Mecca, to the transformation of the remains of an Almohad mosque into a nationalist-dynastic shrine in Rabat designed by a Vietnamese architect. In many Muslim societies the age old institution of religious foundations (waqf-s) is part of these heritage politics. Libraries with precious manuscripts, which might both be symbols of piety and objects of learning, often referred to with the Arabic term turâth, are sites for study and to be studied. The recent events in Timbuctoo show how these lieux de mémoire can also become sites of contestation.

The different practices concerning heritage have many dimensions. Recently tourism has come to play a major role. This might be linked to processes of regionalisation and the promotion of minority rights and identities, which are prominent both in Indonesia and the Maghreb.

Although several of the papers will focus on contemporary practices, no analysis is possible without ample consideration of the political and historical dimensions. The current attention for heritages of various sorts is intimately linked to the politics of colonial, nationalist, regionalist, and ethnic identities, in the framework of the modern nation state. Stating that heritage is an invention to be deconstructed is a truism unfortunately hard to avoid. One of the issues to explore is how people, policymakers, activists and scholars, relate the notion of heritage to memory. The economic dimension of heritage includes the domains of tourism and the production of crafts, both for national and foreign markets. The rise of some cities as privileged heritage sites cum tourist destinations could be the subject of case studies. The rather considerable communities of emigrant, who increasingly show interest in their “heritage”, add a dynamic transnational dimension. The shared colonial regimes of Muslim societies in Africa and Asia will lead to fruitful comparisons.

The aim of this panel is not so much to look for commonalities or generalisations, but the let comparisons work as experiments, which will lead to stimulating new questions about people constructing heritage in Muslim contexts.

Grantee: dr Anar Ahmadov

Co-Grantee: dr. Johan Christensen

Grant amount: €4.990

The Global Diffusion and Reshaping of Economic Ideas: Understanding the Impact of Western-Educated Technocrats in Central Eurasia

Problem: The travel of economic ideas has been an increasingly critical feature of globalization and policy diffusion across societies (Fourcade 2006; Peck 2004). Economic policy models coined in North America and Western Europe have been especially powerful, spreading to developing countries through various channels and considerably influencing their development trajectories (Kurz et al. 2011). Education in Western countries has been one such channel. By now, a flourishing literature provides fascinating accounts of the impact of Western-educated “technocrats” in their developing countries, regarding them as agents in this diffusion of ideas (Galjart and Silva 1995). But are they merely agents or autonomous actors who re-shape economic governance ideas, norms, and practices?

Questions: Specifically, we ask three largely unexplored questions. First, how do the policy ideas, attitudes and identities of these elites differ from those of their peers – economic policy-makers without Western degrees, and do these differences translate into dissimilar impacts? Second, what historical, institutional, and social factors simultaneously affect their agency and modify original economic ideas in creating new syntheses? Finally, when do the cultural and social capital that Western education provides become a resource in local battles for power over policy and when do they become a disadvantage?

Contribution: Our study remedies key conceptual and methodological shortcomings of existing research. First, unlike much of this work, we do not assume a one-sided “undiluted” transfer of economic policy models from West to East and South. Second, we aim to evaluate empirically the potentially untenable assumption that Western trainees hold the ideas of their Western host superior to the ones in their sending country. Third, since our knowledge on the role of Western-educated technocrats is mainly based on selected cases in Latin America and East Asia where such elites have been influential, we propose to investigate whether and how far these findings travel to other settings. Finally, we join the few studies that zoom in on the level of actors through elite interviews, while also adding a crucial but missing dimension: an explicit comparison of Western trainees to their non-Western-educated peers. These corrections are critical for illuminating causal links, avoiding undeserved downplaying of human agency, and making valid conclusions.

Methods: We will investigate these ideas through a mixed-method comparative historical study of post-independence economic policymakers in Azerbaijan and Georgia. These two countries provide fertile ground for exploring these thoughts because they were considerably similar under Soviet rule but embarked on diverse economic and political paths since the USSR’s collapse. Our methods include 60 in-depth elite interviews, two focus groups with experts, and the compilation of an original dataset of biographical information on economic policy elites over time.

Relevance to GI: This project contributes to GI research by closely engaging with major debates on the transnational diffusion of economic ideas; studying interaction rather than one-sided transmission of ideas across “Western” and “non-Western” societies; highlighting the interplay between historical legacies and transnational actors’ agency in shaping social outcomes; and enhancing the GI’s engagement with Central Eurasia and its history, political economy and public administration.


Activities: The Seed grant will be used to fund the following activities. First, it will be used to cover travel costs to and from and accommodation in the field (Tbilisi, Georgia and Baku, Azerbaijan). Second, we will conduct 30 in-depth elite interviews with Western- and non-Western-educated economic policymakers in each of the two countries (60 in total). Third, we will hold two focus groups in each country with local and international experts who will be asked to assess the policymakers’ impact in the two countries (four focus groups in total). Finally, the grant will be used to cover the costs of compiling two datasets with biographical data on economic policy elites over time through employing one research assistant per country (two in total). Together these activities will help us pursue the research questions of this project.

Outputs: We aim to publicize the project results through two co-authored articles to be submitted to leading international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, the grant will be used to meet the costs of two other outputs. The first comprises of two public talks: one delivered to GI partners in Leiden and one StepTalk on Spanish Steps in Wijnhaven building in Den Haag that will be open to students and public. The second is a photo exhibition in a Leiden museum or Wijnhaven building in Den Haag that will feature depictions on the role of “technocrats” in developing countries, including in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Contribution to GI: This project would enhance the GI research profile in several ways. First, it undertakes original, innovative research related to understanding global interactions. Second, given the project’s focus on elites and policies that at present affect many developing countries, its findings are likely to highlight some of the critical ways in which global interactions research has considerable social relevance. Third, the envisaged talks and photo exhibition can be a useful addition to GI’s existing dissemination. Finally, the project initiates the development of a new cross-regional and interdisciplinary collaboration that adds to GI portfolio. The project integrates the co-investigators’ expertise in migration studies, political economy, and Central Eurasia (Anar Ahmadov) and in public administration, sociology of economic knowledge, and advanced industrialized democracies (Johan Christensen).


Fourcade, Marion. 2006. “The Construction of a Global Profession: The Transnationalization of Economics.” American Journal of Sociology 112 (1): 145–94.

Galjart, Benno, and Paricio Silva, eds. 1995. Designers of Development: Intellectuals and Technocrats in the Third World. Leiden: Research School CNWS.

Kurz, Heinz, Tamotsu Nishizawa, and Keith Tribe. 2011. The Dissemination of Economic Ideas. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar.

Peck, Jamie. 2004. “Geography and Public Policy: Constructions of Neoliberalism.” Progress in Human Geography 28 (3): 392–405.

Damian Pargas and Jeff Fynn-Paul, both from History, have been awarded a seed grant for their LSSA conference on Slavery and Forced Labor in Asia. Grant Amount: €5.000 (November 2016).

The Leiden Slavery Studies Association (LSSA) is pleased to announce that it will host its second biennial conference on 1-3 June 2017. This year the conference theme is "Slavery and Forced Labor in Asia, c.1250-c.1900: Continuities and Transformations in Comparative Perspective." Although pioneering researchers such as Anthony Reid and James F. Warren paved the way for a greater understanding of slavery in Asia, chattel, debt, and forced labor in Asia have not figured prominently in research on slavery as a global phenomenon. Taking advantage of a recent surge in Asian slavery studies in The Netherlands, this conference seeks to bring Asia fully into the discourse on global slavery by bringing together scholars who work on slavery and forced labor across the region between the mid-thirteenth and early twentieth-centuries. Both Anthony Reid and James Warren have agreed to give the keynote talks.

The goal of the LSSA conference series is to examine slave systems in comparative perspective and situate them in broader regional and pan-regional contexts. The conference will therefore feature papers and panels that address topics such as:

Selected papers from the conference will be published in an edited volume with the Brill series Studies in Global Slavery.

For more information please contact the conference organizers: 
Dr. Richard B. Allen, rallen1@framingham.edu 
Dr. Jeff Fynn-Paul, j.fynn-paul@hum.leidenuniv.nl


Prof.dr. Nira Wickramasinghe (LIAS, South Asia) and Dr. Alicia Schrikker (History) have been awarded a seed grant for their project: ‘Being a slave’ Indian ocean slavery in local context. Granted: €4750 (May 2016)

‘Being a slave’ Indian ocean slavery in local context

Project Coordinators: 
Prof.dr. Nira Wickramasinghe
Dr. Alicia Schrikker 
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: N.K.Wickramasinghe@hum.leidenuniv.nl 
Alicia Schrikker at a.f.schrikker@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Dr. Maartje Janse (History) and Prof.dr. Gert Oostindie (History, KITLV) have been awarded a seed grant for: "Network Global Abolitionisms," which will link scholars from across the world and across disciplines who are working on antislavery activism and abolitionism. Granted: €5000 (September 2015).

Project Coordinators: 
Dr.Maartje Janse (Institute for History) 
Prof. Gert Oostindie (Institute for History, and Director of KITLV)

The Global Abolitionisms Network has been established to link scholars from across the world and across disciplines who are working on antislavery activism and abolitionism. Through collaboration in seminars, conferences, edited volumes and joint grant proposals it is our ambition to develop and offer new understandings of the history of abolition. Although a tremendous amount of work has been done on this topic, there is room for innovation and integration of national case studies in a broader transnational and interdisciplinary perspective. The global history of abolitionism takes as its point of departure two ideas:

1) The attempts to end the slave trade and slavery were fundamentally different in character geographically and chronologically, and that we should speak of abolitionisms rather than abolitionism, however,

2) different abolitionisms have shaped each other, throughout space and time. To truly understand the historical development of the struggle against slave trade and slavery we need an integrated approach that respects the diversity of  protest forms, many of which are too often discarded in the dominant perspective.

This network is a Leiden initiative, part of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association, and will be coordinated from Leiden for at least 3 years (currently by Maartje Janse). The network is organized by 3 more scholars:

Peter Stamatov, historical sociologist (Yale) 
Angela Alonso, historical sociologist (Sao Paulo) 
Richard Huzzey, historian (Liverpool), co-director Centre for the Study of International Slavery. 

Our first priorities are creating a website and a mailing list. In November the Global Abolitions Network will be launched by hosting a roundtable at the Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, in Baltimore. In 2016 we will host a symposium, and a year later an international conference on Global Abolitionisms will be organized.

A seed grant has been awarded to Dr. Till Sonnemann (Archaeology) and Dr. Pedro Russo (Leiden Observatory) for their workshop: "From Stone Age to Space Age: Discussing Common Grounds in Archaeology and Astronomy." The workshop’s main goal is to start an open discourse on cooperation between researchers from Archaeology and Astronomy. Granted: €4000 (September 2015).

Project Coordinators: 
Dr. Till Sonnemann (Archaeology) 
Dr. Pedro Russo (Leiden Observatory)

Archaeology and Astronomy have fascinated societies through the ages; fundamental research questions about human life are connected. In recent studies on science and society, space sciences and archaeology rank as some of the most popular topics; represented only by a fraction of all research, both subjects punch way above their weight in the field of public awareness.

Of the many interdisciplinary research projects, Archaeology and Astronomy connect the philosophical questions we ask in Humanities with physical studies that the Natural Sciences provide. Researchers in both fields use similar research techniques - e.g. image processing or pattern recognition, and data techniques - to answer the big questions, which can be reduced to where are we from? where are we going?

The workshop’s main goal is to start an open discussion on cooperation between researchers of the two institutes. We therefore choose to keep the topics broad, covering the whole range of potential interaction. Evidently, the two disciplines can differ substantially, and we are aware that not every participant will have equal interest and knowledge in every aspect. The topics are Science and Technology, Education and Public Outreach, Astronomical Heritage, as well as Academic Teaching; we will also discuss and explore the Common Areas within subjects taught at both departments.

Particular research techniques, such as remote sensing, image analysis, data mining, are cross-disciplinary in approach and methodology. Moreover, some topics forge closer ties to other disciplines rather than their own discipline. For instance, the physics and engineering backgrounds of many space scientists can spike new ideas on how to target problems in archaeology. In comparison, Archaeologists’ study of past cultures and their astronomical heritage provides a more historicized view of astronomy and different understandings of the universe. In outreach and public education the two departments could work closer together on comprehensive philosophical questions probing origins and global citizenship, drawing upon both disciplines to provide novel theories and answers.

Event webpage: 24-26 February 2016

Dr. Jelle Bruning has been awarded a seed grant for "Jihad: Between Theory and Practice," a workshop that will discuss the influence of jihad-related ideologies on the movement of people and the formation of networks. Granted: €5000 (September 2015).

Project Coordinator: 
Dr. Jelle Bruning (LIAS - Arabic Studies)

Modern discussions on jihad and the spread and defence of Muslim ideologies tend to focus on current issues, such as Muslim foreign fighters, militant Islam in Europe, and extreme violence endorsed by Muslim groups in the Middle East and North Africa. Yet, such modern issues stand in a long tradition of which elements, such as the foreign fighter phenomenon, date back to the early centuries of Muslim history. As early as the eighth century C.E., Muslims are recorded to have travelled far in order to participate in various forms of jihad ‒ violent and non-violent, directed against Muslim as well as non-Muslim authorities. The places where they gathered (for example, coastal cities in Egypt and Palestine, the Muslim-Christian frontier zones in modern south-eastern Turkey and on the Iberian Peninsula) often formed important hubs in personal and scholarly networks.

This workshop discusses the influence of jihad-related ideologies on the movement of people and the formation of networks. It approaches this subject diachronically and from three different disciplines, each represented by one expert: history, religion, and archaeology. Much attention will be paid to the relationship between ideology and practice and the role of religious authorities. Sub-topics that will be addressed are: the development of jihad-related ideologies and their spread and reception; the relationship between jihad and the pursuit of other matters, such as religious knowledge and financial profit; the form of relevant networks, their members and their maintenance; the practical and infrastructural organization of jihad and the role of religious and political authorities.

An international conference at Leiden University, 1-2 June 2015. Granted: €3700 (May 2015).

Leiden University 
1-2 June 2015

Conference Organizers: 
Dr. Damian Alan Pargas (History), Dr. Jeff Fynn-Paul (History/International Studies), Dr. Karwan Fatah-Black (History/CLACS)

Why have certain groups of people been enslaved throughout history and not others? How have shifting ideologies and group identities impacted and/or informed the nature of slavery and post-slavery in various world societies? How have these ideologies and identities interacted with institutions and political realities in order to produce ever-changing geographies of slavery and freedom across the globe?

Drawing from J. Fynn-Paul’s theoretical concept of “slaving zones,” this international conference will host nearly fifty scholars from all over the world to reflect upon how cultural identities, ideologies, and institutions have affected the evolution of global slavery.

The basic tents of the “slaving zone” theory are:

1) that political organization protects people from being targeted as slaves, while political disorganization can have the opposite effect;

2) that many societies had geographical areas which were ‘slaving zones,’ i.e., places from which slaves could be captured or purchased;

3) that many societies created ‘no-slaving zones’ which were (theoretically) off limits to slaving;

4) that non-monotheistic societies had more permeable ‘no-slaving zones,’ while monotheistic societies tended to create more absolute bans on the enslavement of co-religionists (thus, religious boundaries also acted to create slaving zone boundaries);

5) that slaving zones can represent fractures within a given society (for example: some ‘classes’ of people, such as criminals, or the poor, or people of a certain race, creed, or ethnicity might be legitimate slave targets, while others are off limits);

6) and that identity and ideology play key roles in determining the actual boundaries of slaving zones, often just as much or more than political and economic organization.

Conference website: http://www.hum.leiden.edu/history/slaving-zones/

Participants to the conference will use their work as a case study to reflect upon how the paradigm of “slaving zones” applies to their own research. Some of the subthemes that conference papers will address include (but are not limited to):

  • the development over time of broad ideologies and group identities that justified and determined who could be enslaved and who could not;

  • the (de-)commodification of slave bodies (i.e., the relegation of slaves to subhuman status and market commodities, and the redefinition of ex-slave bodies after abolition);

  • the causes of forced slave migration and border crossings (within and between slave societies, but also from slave to free territories), and their effect on slaving zone ideologies and cultural identities;

  • the development over time of slave and non-slave identities, including after manumission or emancipation, with specific consideration for the fluidity of such identities (for example “black”, “colored”, and “white” identities in the Atlantic world);

  • slave agency: the boundaries and opportunities in bondpeople’s attempts to redefine their bodies, identities, and status over time, or utilize the geography of slavery and freedom to their advantage (for example cultural practices that reclaimed slaves’ humanity, slave flight to free territories in an attempt to claim free status, intermarriage between free and slave, self-purchase, negotiations and legal proceedings for manumission, etc);

  • the development, successes and failures of abolitionism and antislavery in relevant world societies, and the effects that these movements had on slaving zone ideologies;

  • and the creation of legal and political frameworks that permitted, sustained, and/or abolished slavery and slave trades.

Beyond the Conference: Leiden Slavery Studies Association (LSSA)

The ‘Slaving Zones’ conference will be the first biennial conference of the new Leiden Slavery Studies Association (LSSA), which is dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of slavery and post-slavery in any period and any geographical region. LSSA provides an interdisciplinary forum for slavery specialists working in various faculties and programs at Leiden University in order to streamline, support, and promote collaboration on teaching, research and outreach projects. It aligns with the research profile of Leiden Global Interactions and builds upon Leiden’s strong tradition in humanities and social-science scholarship on world migrations, globalization, and minority studies.

The goals of LSSA are to:

  • promote and streamline research and teaching on slavery at Leiden University
  • stimulate collaboration and knowledge transfer between slavery scholars at Leiden University
  • advance Leiden University’s international profile and expertise on slavery scholarship
  • organize events and serve as a contact point for public interest on slavery


Dr. Elizabeth Cecil - 6-months postdoc

Project: Tracing The Arc of the Sun: Religious Networks in the Borderlands of South And Southeast Asia

This project works to map a new religious geography by tracing the expansion of the cult of Sūrya (the Sun god) at key political centers in South and Southeast Asia from the 7th-10th century CE. These centuries marked a pivotal historical period of social mobility and religious dynamism during which patronage of the Sun cult expanded significantly across these regions. Sūrya left his most important traces in the ‘borderlands’, the geographic and cultural crossroads along the major routes of trans-regional exchange. Shaped by the interactions of diverse peoples and practices, the major polities in these regions were sites of religious cosmopolitanism with few parallels elsewhere in Asia at the time. This study works to explore how and why the Sūrya cult flourished within these shared spaces. Using the paradigm of transculturation as an explanatory model, I hypothesize that Sūrya acted as a vehicle of cultural exchange and transformation that was uniquely capable of negotiating between localized and trans-regional religious traditions.

To situate Sūrya and his worship within particular borderlands, this study adopts a transdisciplinary perspective that integrates textual, material, visual, and spatial paradigms traditionally confined to separate disciplines. Narrative literature, ritual texts, and inscriptions are brought into conversation with images, monuments, and landscapes from four vital religious centers. These are: Osian in northwest India, Alampur in southeast India, Si Thep in northeast Thailand, and Oc-eo in Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta. Although Sūrya was a dominant presence at all of these sites, they have been narrowly defined in sectarian terms as ‘Śaiva,’ ‘Vaiṣṇava,’ or ‘Buddhist.’ This project challenges such static descriptions of religious communities and spaces to recover religion as a dialogue between places, objects, and peoples.

Host institute: LIAS

Dr. Ka-Kin Cheuk - 3-months postdoc

Project: China-Netherlands Flower Trade: Economy, Sustainability, and Globalization

With the rise of China as a giant market for western products, Dutch tulips, daffodils, and other bulb flowers become increasingly sought-after by the Chinese consumers. Many Dutch flower exporters have since adopted a China-oriented approach, prioritizing the Chinese market while diminishing investments in other sales markets. Such business expansion in China can be seen as a homogenizing strategy of flower industries in the Netherlands, where local traders and farmers are now spending less on sales networking with other parts of the world. This research is set to examine how this trade development mediates the everyday notion of ‘sustainability’ in both Netherlands and China. The research questions that I am proposing include: While sustainable development has been celebrated as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) across various Dutch sectors, can these concepts be transferable to China where flower consumptions are less moralized? Has the moral landscape, such as CSR, been transformed in the Netherlands where the local economy is now more dependent on its linkages with China? In answering these questions, the research aims to theorize the ethics of sustainability and economic transnationality in the China-Netherlands flower trade.

Host institute: LIAS

Dr. Judith Naeff - 6-months postdoc

Project: Coming to Terms with Post-Spring Disillusion. How artists, authors, activists and intellectuals relate to the 1970s to make sense of their dashed hopes

This project aims to demonstrate that, and to analyse how, in the context of the dashed hopes of the Arab spring, many Arab authors, artists, activists and intellectuals turn towards global episodes of social dissent in the 1970s in order to give meaning to their experience of 2011 and beyond. This phenomenon is part of a profound and global reorientation of the left, which has sparked renewed interest in previous episodes of protest and intergenerational conversations about their significance to contemporary struggles of social justice. Forming part of global developments of new leftist protest movements, the findings of this project will lend themselves to comparative analyses with for example the young support base of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, or the cultural imaginaries of Occupy and the Indignados.

Coming to Terms with Post-Spring Disillusion seeks to explore literary and journalistic texts, videos and art works from Egypt, Lebanon and the Syrian and Iraqi diaspora, that refer to an older generation, or historical episode, of the struggle for social justice in the region and elsewhere to make sense of the present and recent history. It combines the close cultural analysis of these artefacts with targeted interviews with its makers as well as activists and intellectuals of different generations.

The project is important because it complements those studies that analyse the Arab Spring as a political process so as to assess its successes or failures, with an investigation of the cultural imaginaries that people construct when giving meaning and value to not only a particularly significant historical event (the Arab spring) but also its disappointing aftermath. It is unique in its focus on intergenerational dynamics and the post-spring interest in past episodes of dissent.

Host institute: LIAS

Dr Tatiana Ivleva - 6-months postdoc

Project: From Local to Global and Back: Non-Verbal Communication in the Roman World

The project is a comparative interdisciplinary study of the role and meanings of the hand in the Roman provinces beyond the Mediterranean core from the start of the Roman expansion in second century BC to the third century AD. The main sources are ambiguous hand gestures and multiple gestural combinations that feature prominently in funerary and votive art, on monuments depicting scenes of trade, and in material culture, e.g. hairpins, pendants, votive figurines, and ex-voto objects created as hands displaying peculiar gestures. The project builds on the interest generated through the application of globalization paradigm to ancient evidence, with the Roman world as a main example of pre-modern globalization. By studying hands in the multi-ethnic environment of provincial societies of the Roman world through this novel approach and integrating it with ideas of agency, iconology, and multilingualism provides a powerful tool to explore interethnic interaction through the body on non-verbal level of the gestural communication. Equipped with solid empirical data and supported by advanced technologies, the project bridges history, art history and small finds archaeology to construct a new theoretical and practical model for the study of non-verbal language contact and community cultural interactions in interconnected Roman world.

Host institute: LIAS

Dr. Katia Hay - 12-month postdoc (start date January 1)

Project: The power of images: Rethinking censorship in the global media 

Katia Hay, born 1981, studied philosophy and literature in Madrid (Complutense), Munich (LMU), Paris (Sorbonne Paris-IV) and London (Open University). She obtained a DEA in Histoire de la Philosophie in Paris on ‘Deleuze, time and dance’ in 2004. In 2008 she obtained a double PhD (cotutelle between Munich and Paris) in philosophy on ‘Schelling and the tragic’. Since then she has worked mostly on Nietzsche, humour, laughter and language with a 6-year FCT research grant at the University of Lisbon. She is author of Die Notwendigkeit des Scheiterns. Das Tragische als Bestimmung der Philosophie bei Schelling (Alber-Verlag: Beiträge zur Schelling-Forschung 2, 2012) and has published many articles on Schelling and Nietzsche. She has recently edited a volume on Nietzsche, German Idealism and its Critics, published by de Gruyter. She is currently working on a project on The Power of Images: Rethinking Censorship in the Global Media as a post-doc researcher at Leiden University, at the Centre for Arts in Society (LUCAS).

Host institute: LUCAS

Dr. Johannes Müller - 6-month postdoc (start date February 1) 

Project: Cultures of diaspora. Inner-European migration and the origins of the German-Atlantic world

Johannes Müller is lecturer of German literature and culture at Leiden University. He has worked and published on early modern literature, migration and religion and is co-editor of the volume Memory before Modernity. Practices of Memory in Early Modern Europe (Brill, 2013). His book Exile Memories and the Dutch Revolt. The Narrated Diaspora, 1550-1750 will appear with Brill in May 2016.

As a GI-postdoctoral fellow, Johannes will prepare a research on the impact of older European refugee networks on the early German emigration to North America. Studying letters, genealogical and literary sources, he will analyze how later generation migrants grew up in an environment in which geographical mobility shaped the lives of individuals. Employing a transgenerational network approach, the postdoc project will explain how and why descendants of migrants and their transnational networks connected early modern Germany to the ‘Atlantic World’ and stimulated migration into Colonial America.

Host institute: LUCAS

Dr. Maria-Paz Peirano - 6-month postdoc (start date February 15) 

Project: Global images: European film festival schools and the construction of "world" cinema

María-Paz Peirano is a Social Anthropologist from Universidad de Chile and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Kent. She holds Postgraduate degrees in both Documentary Film and Film Studies, from Universidad de Chile and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile respectively. Her research involves an ethnographic approach to film as social practice, focusing on documentary film and the construction of Chilean cinema in global settings. Her post-doc project in Leiden looks at the role of international film festivals as educational hubs for peripheral filmmakers -particularly Latin American directors and producers- focusing on how their creative practices are negotiated in transnational settings.

Host institute: CA-DS

Dr. Guno Jones - 12-month postdoc (start date March 1) 

Project: World War II, (post)colonial citizens and the nation in the Netherlands and Great Britain

Guno Jones is an interdisciplinary scholar who received his doctorate (2007) at VU University  Amsterdam. Before working at Leiden University, he held post-doc positions at the University of Amsterdam and VU University Amsterdam. His main research interests are on political discourses on citizenship, postcolonial migration, and the nation in the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK; the (politics of )heritage of World War II; and the (politics of) heritage of colonialism and slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies. He published on these subjects in various publications. As a lecturer, he taught on the subjects mentioned, as well as on qualitative research methods.

Host institute: History

Dr. Marloes Cornelissen - 6-month postdoc (start date March 1) 

Project: Material culture at the Ottoman Porte: the Dutch "nation" and the Ottoman elite (1750-1810)

Marloes Cornelissen received her Ph.D. in Ottoman history at Sabanci University in Istanbul in 2015. At Leiden University, Marloes plans to work on a research project that concerns the study of material culture in Ottoman Istanbul between 1750 and 1810, and specifically that of the Dutch "nation" residing there. The Dutch "nation" was the group of merchants, diplomats and other individuals that enjoyed Dutch protection in the Ottoman Empire. By the eighteenth century, the Dutch community in the Ottoman Empire was nearly all but Dutch and consisted of people whose families had lived in the Ottoman Empire for several generations, and often had no knowledge of the Dutch language.

By looking at the community’s material culture, and comparing it to that of local Ottomans, we will be able to get a so-called "lived experience" of its members’ personal worlds. At the same time, we gain knowledge about networks of information exchange as well as about global, social and cultural interactions on Ottoman grounds. Through this project, a group of individuals is introduced who formed a motley crew. They worked not only as diplomatic and commercial agents, but were also part of a network that provided unofficial information to European institutions, political rulers and scholarly networks.

Host institute: LIAS

Dr. Martha G. Bell received her Ph.D. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University in 2013 and was a Postdoctoral Scholar of Nature Society at Penn State until 2014. She also has training in the fields of Archaeology and Geology, with an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.A. from Yale College.

Bell's research considers human use of the environment from a historical perspective. She is interested in how current land and resource use patterns and practices came to be, as well as the reconstruction of past land and resource use. More specifically, her research centers on the colonial period transfers of agro-pastoral practices, water management traditions, and land and resource knowledge systems between the Old and New Worlds, with focus on Latin America (Peru, Andes). This work incorporates concepts from multiple approaches, including nature-society geography, political ecology, environmental governance, science and technology studies, and environmental history.

Bell's dissertation looked at how the Spanish introduction of European gristmill technology and related wheat/bread production and water management practices to Peru influenced social and ecological transformations in the city of Lima and its surroundings, including impacts to environmental and natural resource governance institutions and urban development. Forthcoming publications stemming from this project analyze multiple aspects of municipal water use and governance in colonial Lima, as well as wheat cultivation and trade in the Lima region.

Bell has also published on the history of geography in Peru and on historical landscape models of the Andes. Other projects have focused on pottery production and distribution in the rural Andes. In addition, she works as a freelance cartographer and always integrates spatial analysis and the visual representation of spatial relationships into her work.

Bell will be based at LIAS from March to December 2015.

Breed Grants

Grantees: Dr. Salvador Regilme (History) and Dr. Irene Hadiprayitno (LIAS)

Project: Global Human Rights at Risk? Challenges, Prospects, and Reforms

Research Puzzle and Analytical Motivations of the Seminar

Since the United Nations adopted in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights norms started to permeate transnational political and legal discourses and began to influence global governance institutions and domestic national politics in many, if not all, countries worldwide (Thomas 2001; Regilme 2014; Jensen 2016; Ramcharan 2016; Regilme 2016). National discourses and legal norms, especially in non-Western societies, are often expected to respond to transnational development urging modernization and assimilation. Western liberalism is facing significant challenges from, to mention a few, technological advancement, the raising sentiment of nationalism and the growing socioeconomic inequality from all over the world and in the Western hemisphere itself(Macdonald 2014; Chacko and Jayasuriya 2017; Viola 2017). Moreover, it has become increasingly clear that the degree to which transnational human rights norms resonate to the most vulnerable at the local levels and how they are dealt with locally varies greatly (Merry 2006). There are multiple social, cultural and historical variables that shape the plural processes of negotiating human rights on the ground.

Several key transformations in global politics account for uncertainty over the future of the international human rights regime. The 9/11 attacks in the US and the transformative US-led war on terror motivated states worldwide to invoke national and international security as an excuse for increasing state repression, thereby undermining human rights and civil liberties of citizens (International Council on Human Rights Policy 2002; Wilson 2005; Foot 2008; Regilme 2017) As Asia continues to be the leader of global economic growth, the return of China and several other emerging economies — including India, Indonesia and Thailand that together account for half of the world population — are reconfiguring the global power (Parisot 2013; Acharya 2017; Regilme and Parisot 2017). The rise of these new and reemerging powers do not only seem to challenges several decades of US-led hegemony but also some Western dominance in shaping international human rights norms. Moreover, blatantly racist, sexist, illiberal, and authoritarian political discourses have begun to re-emerge in mainstream public sphere not only in the Global South but also in several other countries in the Global North. In sum, those recent transformations have renewed the scepticism over the future of transnational human rights norms (Benhabib 2011; Hopgood 2013; Chacko and Jayasuriya 2017).

This multidisciplinary seminar aims to examine new debates and issues arising from these challenges and to explore the possible empirical and theoretical implications thereof to the future of the global politics of human rights. First, the seminar examines whether, and if so, how the apparently declining influence of the West as well as the rise of illiberal and authoritarian political discourses worldwide could impact the legitimacy and effectiveness of transnational human rights networks and other multilateral intergovernmental organizations. Second, the seminar invites new and radical rethinking of the future of transnational human rights norms — its substantive content, ethical assumptions, its representative global and national institutions. Third, the seminar brings together established and promising scholars in conversation with human rights practitioners in an effort to bring a dynamic and fruitful debate that bridges theory and practice.

Content of the Seminar

The following key questions represent some but not all of the plausible themes that we seek to address:

The Ontology of Transnational Human Rights Challenges

a. What are some of the most serious and key challenges affecting the legitimacy and effectiveness of international human rights norms?

b. What are the plausible causes of the perceived rise of illiberal and authoritarian discourses in global and national mainstream public spheres? How and in what ways do these discourses undermine international human rights norms?

c. What are the key limitations and milestones of post-Second World War international human rights norms — particularly in terms of its conceptual basis, historical appreciation, and normative basis?

The Epistemology of Transnational Human Rights Challenges

d. What are the empirical indicators that international human rights norms are being undermined? How do we measure and conceptualize human rights abuses in ways that accurately represent the severity of the violations?

e. Do our current methods of diagnosing and measuring potential and actual international human rights problems and crises accurate and reliable? If not, why? How and under which conditions can we reform our methods of researching human rights problems worldwide?

f. What constitutes a human rights violation or abuse, as dictated by contemporary international human rights regime? How and in what ways do these conceptions promote the interests of some actors while undermining others?

g. How and in what ways does the current human rights regime systematically exclude the contributions of actors from the Global South in the establishment thereof?

Global Governance and Human Rights Challenges

h. What are the key challenges faced by transnational civil society networks and intergovernmental organizations, particularly in the legitimacy and effectiveness of human rights promotion?

i. What are the causes of these challenges and problems faced by transnational human rights organizations and global governance institutions?

The Future of Transnational Human Rights Challenges

j. Does the contemporary international human rights regime need a radical reform? If so, what constitutes radical reform?

k. How and in what ways can the most vulnerable sectors from economically rich and poor states be empowered in global human rights institutions and movements?

l. How could human rights thrive in a racialized, stratified, and unequal international system?

Grantee: Joris Larik (Governance and Global Affairs)

Grant amount: €11.357,18

“Global Brexit”: The Future of Relations between Europe and “Global South” Partners

Project proposal:

The global ripple effects of “Brexit” constitute a new, understudied topic. The main motivation for this project is to transcend “Eurocentric” and monodisciplinary approaches by tackling this issue with interdisciplinary research and broader reflections on European fragmentation and global interactions in a multipolar world.

One of the most evident “symptoms” of this global dimension will be the effect on treaty relations between the EU and its Member States with partners around the world, which raises questions not only of international law, but also of long-term global power dynamics. Brexit will require the renegotiation of more than 700 treaties with 168 different countries, from which the UK currently still benefits.[1] As my own research has shown, it is not even always clear what the extent of the affected treaty relations is due to diverging perceptions.[2] Moreover, the UK and EU are now negotiating a “transition period” during which external treaties will continue to be applied, but other countries have already flagged the need for their consent and are asking for concessions based on their interests.[3] Hence, in the coming years, policymakers will be busy adjusting to—and using to their advantage—the global reverberations of Brexit.

To understand these shifting relations better, close attention needs to be paid to the context in which they take place. While the UK is reflecting on its future international role as “Global Britain”,[4] the EU has expedited reforms of its own to streamline its external relations ranging from trade to defense issues. Meanwhile, the foreign policies of countries around the world are also far from static (e.g., the shift from the Obama presidency to the Trump administration’s “America First” policy and China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative).

Against this backdrop, the project’s goals are:

  1. to scale up my research on U.S.-EU-UK relations, conducted during the past six months with a Fulbright-Schuman grant, by expanding the analysis to case studies from the “Global South” (e.g., India, China, South Africa, and ASEAN).
  2. to develop a more sophisticated interdisciplinary approach combining legal analysis, data science (for mapping and visualization purposes),[5] international relations, area studies and history, to form the basis for a competitive ERC Starting Grant application in October 2018.
  3. To create a research network drawing on experts from different disciplines at Leiden University to address the wider global dimensions of “Brexit”, moving beyond purely “Eurocentric”, “Western” or legalistic approaches.

The main research questions for the project thus are:

  1. Legally-empirically, what is the current state of treaty relations with key partners from the “Global South” and how will they be affected by Brexit?
  2. Comparatively, what are the common patterns and distinct features of each external partner in its relations with the EU and UK, and compared to “Western” partners such as the U.S.?
  3. Taking into account relevant historical trajectories, identities, and geopolitical dynamics, how are these relations likely to adapt to Brexit, i.e., who wants to keep certain treaties in place, change them, replace them, let them lapse—and why?

Description of Activities:

A Breed Grant for this project will be pivotal for expanding and deepening my research on the global implications of Brexit in a multipolar world. Its specific activities will be threefold:

  1. The grant will be used for organizing an interdisciplinary workshop provisionally entitled “Fractured Europe, Multipolar World: Redefining (Treaty) Relations in a Post-Brexit World”. The workshop will enhance Global Interactions research at Leiden University by convening different perspectives from leading scholars from Leiden, in particular from international relations and diplomacy, area studies, history, and law, as well as from policy-makers and civil society representatives. It will serve as the launch pad for an enduring research network on the global reverberations of Brexit. During various thematic panels, the global implications of Brexit and geopolitical shifts for Europe’s (treaty) relations with select major partners will be discussed, with an emphasis on Global North-South relations by including case studies such as India, China, South Africa and ASEAN.
  2. The grant will be used for teaching relief during the first semester of the academic year 2018/19. With a view to expanding my research on this topic, this will allow me to focus on preparing a competitive ERC Starting Grant application, which will build on the findings of the interdisciplinary workshop as well as on my earlier research for my Fulbright-Schuman project on “Forms of Foreign Policy Collaboration in the Unraveled Transatlantic Space”, conducted in 2017/18 at the Center for Transatlantic Studies of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C. In order to optimize the time for preparing the ERC application by October 2018, it will be extremely helpful to be freed from teaching obligations in LUC’s Block 1, for which I am scheduled to teach one 5 EC course running from late August to mid-October.
  3. With a view to disseminating the core insights from this project, the grant will facilitate preparation of a high-level publication based on the workshop and related research. The piece will be co-authored with Leiden colleagues Dr. Alanna O’Malley and Dr. Eamon Aloyo, hence combining expertise in international relations, justice, history and law, in order to put the project’s interdisciplinary approach into action and provide an original angle. The goal is to submit the manuscript by the end of 2018 to a leading peer-reviewed journal, with a preference for those that encourage interdisciplinary research (e.g., Journal of International Law and International Relations, Global Governance, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, or Columbia Journal of Transnational Law),

In addition, I plan to recruit a team of student assistants for this project that will help with the research, drafting and organization of the workshop. These will be cost-neutral as far as the Breed subsidy is concerned as they can be organized through Leiden University College within the framework of a Research Clinic, for which students receive no remuneration but 5 ECs (the equivalent for a regular course).


[1] Paul McClean, After Brexit: the UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 treaties, Fin. Times (May 30, 2017), https://www.ft.com/content/f1435a8e-372b-11e7-bce4-9023f8c0fd2e.

[2] Joris Larik, Tackling post-Brexit uncertainty about international agreements in force (case study: United States), written evidence ordered to be published by the UK House of Commons International Trade Committee (Jan. 31, 2018), http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/international-trade-committee/continuing-application-of-eu-trade-agreements/written/77332.pdf.

[3] Hans von der Burchard, EU trade partners demand concessions for Brexit transition rollover, Politico (Feb. 2, 2018), https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-trade-partners-object-to-brexit-transition-roll-over/. A similar dynamic can be seen in multilateral fora such as the WTO, where major trade partners assert themselves vis-à-vis the EU and UK as they have to redefine their terms of membership, Peter Ungphakorn, Nothing Simple About UK Regaining WTO Status Post-Brexit, INT’L CTR. FOR TRADE & SUSTAINABLE DEV. (June 27, 2016), https://www.ictsd.org/opinion/nothing-simple-about-uk-regaining-wto-status-post-brexit.

[4] See, e.g., Eva Połońska-Kimunguyi & Patrick Kimunguyi, ‘Gunboats of soft power’: Boris on Africa and post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’, 30 Cambridge Rev. Int’l Aff. 325 (2017).

[5] Inspiring examples include the “EU Sanctions Map” developed by the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU (https://www.sanctionsmap.eu) and the “International Investment Agreements Navigator” on UNCTAD’s “Investment Policy Hub” (http://investmentpolicyhub.unctad.org/IIA).

Grantee: Amy Strecker (Archeology)

Land, Property and Common Good. Advancing Spatial Justice in International Law

Project Aim

My aim is to conduct an ERC Starting Grant combining legal analysis with methods from cultural geography and cultural anthropology to scrutinize the use and abuse of property rights in international law. The project will not only examine the international human rights, cultural heritage and environmental law frameworks, but also specific areas of international economic law, including foreign direct investment, that converge and diverge with spatial justice in the realm of land-based projects and policies. Lastly, the research project will also include a strong conceptual component, by reconsidering the concept, definition and interpretation of property in people-place relations. I am applying for the LGI Breed grant to work on developing this project in order to submit a proposal to the ERC (StG) and NWO (Vidi) in autumn 2018.

Research Questions

  1. How is the concept of property defined, articulated, and interpreted in multiple areas of international law?
  2. What are the synergies between different spheres of international (property) law affecting land-use, land rights and landscape protection?
  3. What are the antagonisms between these fields of international law?
  4. Do these spheres operate under similar rules of fair procedure?
  5. How can a substantive understanding of property, borrowing from cultural geography and legal anthropology, contribute towards bridging the gulf between conflicting areas of law and lead to spatial justice?
  6. More broadly, to what extent can property and its reconceptualization contribute to transforming international law from ‘tool of empire’ to vehicle for change?

Outline of the project proposal

It is interesting to note that in the early etymology of ‘property’, land had significance greater than the sum of its economic production value and was also an important component of identity. Indeed, the early notion of property entailed the mutual identification of the owner and the owned, whereas the modern meaning of the word divorces property from identity and refers to inalienability, rather than mutual identification.[1] The construal of property as ownership has come to dominate the discourse of property rights more generally. However, given the existence of spaces that are neither fully public, nor entirely private, such as customary lands and common goods, the narrow interpretation of property is no longer tenable for the global governance of resources. This is particularly the case for land rights, cultural heritage and environmental protection, which are often intertwined.

One symptom of the demise of property (in relation to its social function) is the rise of landscape as a term to reclaim some of the identity and sense of place absent in property discourse.[2] In his seminal paper ‘Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape’,[3] Olwig argues that Landschaft contained meanings of great significance for the construction of personal, political and place identity at the time it entered the English landscape. In particular, he emphasizes the elements of territory and community, community justice, body politic and custom as inherently embedded in early landscape (or the Norse conception of landskapr),[4] thereby going beyond the territorial and scenic conceptualisation that later emerged. Since the late 1990s, this understanding of landscape has begun to make its way into legal texts and international instruments dealing with landscape and land use policies.[5]  However, claims for rights to landscape,[6] while based on real issues of concern – and sometimes on genuine violations of national law – are not a viable means of accessing justice for land rights violations or for preventing destructive development in local landscapes. [7] This is because landscape can never operate on a par with property rights. It is therefore the concept and interpretation of property itself that needs to be scrutinized within the international legal order.

Cultural geographers use the term ‘spatial justice’ to refer to social justice and space, usually within urban contexts.[8] I find the term useful for exploring the ways in which processes of globalization and normalisation of property discourse in international law affect social justice as it relates to land rights and landscape protection. Globalisation has significantly impacted the ways in which communities in many parts of the world interact with and access land and resources – from changing farming patterns due to international trade agreements, to collective tenure and customary rights in lands that are simultaneously the location of large resource extraction projects (many of which operate under international bilateral investment treaties). At the same time, normative developments in the field of human rights and environmental protection provide for the recognition of communities’ rights to ancestral and communal lands,[9] as well as the free, prior and informed consent of communities in order to conduct activities on such lands.[10] Yet the abstract notion of ‘property’ rights in international investment law often collides with the ‘lived-in’ property rights of people and communities on the ground. As noted by Cotula, far from being relegated to the exclusive domain of national law, property has long been and remains an important issue in international legal ordering”.[11] Yet despite its centrality, it remains under-scrutinized in relation to social justice.

Description of Activities

My main activity will be to research and write an ERC Starting Grant (and Vidi) proposal on this topic. While I am very familiar with some of the aspects of my project idea, especially the environmental, heritage and human rights dimensions (on which I have published extensively), the weight and substance of property requires much more engagement with the literature, both legal as well as non-legal, including international investment and trade law (one of the subprojects). In addition to writing these grant proposals, I will also produce at least one peer-reviewed article in a leading journal, as well as present my research from this period at one academic conference.

I have already contacted the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden Law) and initiated a dialogue about hosting my ERC project, should it be funded.

Innovation and relevance to Leiden Global Interactions

The project directly addresses one of the questions central to LGI’s mandate: How does global change across time and space lead to convergence and loss of variation or increasing diversity and conflict? It also relates to two of the themes currently prioritized by LGI: Global Uses of Justice, and Heritage and Diversity.

To my knowledge, there has been no inter-disciplinary study carried out that scrutinizes the relationship between land and property in international law from the perspective of spatial justice. In addition, legal studies dealing with land rights and property rarely apply principles and theories from the social sciences or disciplines such a geography and anthropology, which is what this project aims to do. Through analysing the various uses and abuses of property in global law as it relates to land, this project will not only fill the gap in the scholarly literature on the subject, it also aims to produce the first comprehensive reference point for property from the perspective of ‘spatial justice’ in international law.


[1] N.  Graham, Lawscape. Property, Environment and Law (Routledge, 2011), 27.

[2] A. Strecker, ‘Conceptualising Landscape’ in A. Strecker, Landscape Protection in International Law, Oxford University Press (in press).

[3] Kenneth Olwig, ‘Recovering the Substantive Nature of Landscape’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 86, 1996, 630-653.

[4] Ibid, 631.

[5] See for example, the European Landscape Convention, ETS . 176. The IUCN Management guidelines for Category V Protected Landscapes, which include the objective ‘to support lifestyles and economic activities which are in harmony with nature and the preservation of social and cultural fabric of the communities concerned’, ‘to bring benefits to and contribute to the welfare of the local community’. IUCN, Management Guidelines for IUCN Category V, 2002, 23, 29.

[6] See S. Egoz and G. Pungetti (eds.), The Right to Landscape, Contesting Landscape and Human Rights, (Ashgate, 2011).

[7] A. Strecker, ‘The Law is at Fault? Landscape and Agency in International Law’, in Ed Wall & Tim Waterman (eds.), Landscape and Agency (Ashgate, 2018), 52-65.

[8] See for example, E.W. Soja, Seeking Spatial Justice, Cuadernos de Geografia, 2012, Vol. 21(2),  177-179.

[9] See for example, The Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni Community v. Nicaragua, Judgment of 31/08/ 2001, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R., (Ser. C) No. 79 (2001). Anaya, J. and Grossman, C., ‘The Case of Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua: A New Step in International Law of Indigenous Peoples,’ AJICL, vol. 19: 1 (2002) 1-15. See also  General Comment No. 23, CPPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.5, para, 7.

[10] Article 6,7 and 9 of the International Labour Organization’s Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries (ILO 169) establish that consent must be acquired before indigenous communities are relocated or before development is carried out on their land.  The 2007  United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples reiterates  this provision in Articles 10, 11, 19, 29, 30 and 32. A/RES/61/295.

[11] L. Cotula, ‘Land, Property and Sovereignty in International Law’, 25 Cardozo Journal of International and Comparative Law, 219 (2017), 234.

Grantee: Eugenio Cusumano (International Relations)

Co-Grantees: Jorrit Rijpma (Law), Irial Glynn (History)

Grant amount: €25.000

Saving Lives or Protecting Borders? Maritime Rescuing on the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Caribbean Migratory Routes

Project proposal:

The latest wave of migrations across the Mediterranean severely challenged the European Union and its member states, which have struggled to reconcile law enforcement concerns such as controlling borders with the moral imperative to rescue lives at sea. Over the last years, I have conducted extensive research on humanitarianism at sea, publishing academic articles in first-tier international relations journals and op-eds on migrant rescuing operations in the Mediterranean. While the crises offshore Libya and in the Aegean Sea are not the only instances of large-scale migrations at sea, existing scholarship has not systematically looked at maritime migrations in a global comparative perspective. This project aims to fill this gap by expanding my ongoing research into a comparative analysis of how states, international organisations and non-state actors have responded to the imperative of rescuing migrants at sea in different world regions.

The duty to conduct maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) is a long-standing social norm and a universal principle of international law. Still, the propensity to rescue migrants varies widely across regions and historical periods. While certain coastal states have launched military operations to counter the loss of life at sea and allowed for the lawful disembarkation of rescued migrants in their territory, others have prioritized border protection and criminalized merchant vessels and NGOs conducting SAR operations. Due to the ongoing securitization of migrations and the establishment of legal and financial disincentives against the rescuing of certain categories of people, the SAR norm has frequently been applied selectively, ultimately depriving  migrants of the right to be rescued. What explains this varying willingness to comply with obligation to rescue migrants at sea?  In order to systematically analyse the discourses and legal provisions enabling or inhibiting migrant rescuing, this project will  examine the conduct of SAR operations (or lack thereof) along  different large-scale maritime migratory routes in the Mediterranean, the Eastern Indian Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea.

By doing so, the project would have both theoretical and policy implications.  Firstly, my research would advance the scholarship on international norms, contributing to international relations, international law, and applied ethics alike. Not all states and seafarers worldwide have been subjected to the ‘compliance pull’ of the maritime rescuing norm to the same degree. A comparative study of how the maritime rescuing principle is interpreted and applied in different regions worldwide would shed important insights into the factors underlying varying compliance with established international norms.

Secondly, a comparative examination of different SAR and border control arrangements has important policy implications. For instance, UN involvement in the Vietnamese boat people crisis in the 1970-80s  has been invoked as a solution for migrations from Libya too. Alternatively, critics of the alleged ‘pull factor’ of SAR operations argue that the EU should imitate the Australian model, seen as successful in reducing migrant flows. An empirically accurate, comparative understanding of these policies, their legal and political underpinnings and their ethical implications is therefore of crucial importance to shape future responses to maritime migrations in the Mediterranean and beyond.

Description of Activities:  

In the summer of 2016, I already did interviews and data mining at the headquarters of the Italian and Greek Coast Guards and conducted two weeks of fieldwork aboard an NGO vessel rescuing missions offshore Libya. This experience was enlightening, but also physically and emotionally exhausting. A semester of teaching relief would provide me with the time to join another NGO SAR mission, thereby conducting additional ethnographic research on humanitarianism at sea and observing how the SAR scene offshore Libya has evolved in the wake of present developments such as the ongoing EU training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Frontex accusations of NGOs’ collusion with smugglers.

I would then conduct two additional short periods of fieldwork in the US and Australia. In these cases, my fieldwork would only be limited to conducting semi-structured interviews with government officials, Coast Guard and Navy officers, human right activists and shipping industry association to gain insights into how these actors conceptualize the maritime rescue duty and why. Moreover, data mining at the Australian and US Maritime Rescue Coordination Centers (MRCCs) would provide quantitative information on SAR operations in the Eastern Indian Ocean and the Caribbean. Drawing on these quantitative and qualitative data would place me in an ideal position to write different grant proposals aimed at undertaking a more systematic study of SAR regimes worldwide.

The final workshop to be organized at Leiden university would then allow me to obtain feedback from humanitarian and law enforcement practitioners and scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds. Two collaborations are especially important. Working with Jorrit Rijpma from Leiden Law school would enhance my understanding of the obligations arising from the law of the sea, refugee law, EU, and domestic law. Collaborating with Irial Glynn, who is conducting a global history of boat people, would enrich my historical understanding of the phenomenon, providing insights into how SAR obligations have evolved over time.

Together, prof Rijpma, dr Glynn and I would apply for NIAS Theme Group Fellowship, a grant  bringing together scholars from different backgrounds to work together in advancing knowledge on a particular theme.

Besides writing grant applications, we also envisage publishing two multidisciplinary articles. Prof Rijpma and I intend to co-author an article exploring the friction between international legal obligations to conduct SAR and European laws criminalizing the facilitation of illegal migration. Another article conducting a history of the SAR norm is to be co-authored with dr Glynn.

Grantees: Amy Strecker (Archeology) and Joseph Powderly (Law)

Destruction of Heritage, Human Rights and International Law

This advanced seminar aims to take a fresh look at the issue of heritage destruction by combining legal analysis with cultural criticism. In particular, it aims to move beyond the usual focus of international law on the destruction and threat to heritage in the context of armed conflict to also include an examination of heritage under threat in peacetime, and the role of human rights law in this regard. Normative developments in international human rights and cultural heritage law increasingly advocate a human rights approach to heritage. Likewise in heritage studies, there has been a proliferation and assertion of ‘rights’ in relation to heritage protection. Yet ascertaining the exact nature of these rights remains a challenge, especially in terms of accessing justice for heritage destruction beyond the framework of international criminal law. For example, what happens when heritage is under threat in peacetime by the very state charged with its protection? Human rights are by nature limited by their focus on individual rights. Yet heritage is a collective good, and as such, cannot be measured in terms of personal injury in the same way that the loss of property can. As a consequence, it is difficult to make a case before a human rights court for heritage destruction or heritage under threat, even though cultural heritage forms an inherent part of cultural rights. By scrutinising the current international framework dealing with heritage destruction, this seminar will reassess the various avenues for accessing justice in global heritage governance.

The seminar will take place in the autumn of 2017 at the Wijnhaven building in the Hague and is jointly organised by the Faculties of Archaeology (Dept. of Heritage and Society) and Law (Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies).

Grantee: Kiri Paramore (Asian Studies)

Grant amount: €14.000

Globalizing Confucianism’s History

Project proposal

I currently have two large grant applications ongoing under this title, Globalizing Confucianism’s  History. One is an ERC-CoG (2 mill) for which I have been selected for interview on the 4th October. One is a CCKF (120K) grant which, if the ERC application is unsuccessful, will fund one large element of that project (see below under Description of Activities). I intend this LGI grant to fund preparation for the CCKF project, which will in turn serve to bolster my chances in a second round attempt at the ERC-CoG (in 2018, the last year I am eligible, should I be unsuccessful this round). Therefore, this application will contribute to global interactions at Leiden: 1) through expanding Leiden’s global history outlook into the intellectual history field, including a publication in the prestigious Cambridge History series (see below); and 2) by helping to generate further large grant achievements (ERC-CoG 2018) thereby facilitating a further consolidation of global history related activity at Leiden in general.

Globalizing Confucianism’s History redefines the boundaries of the study of Confucianism by historicizing Confucianism in its true global breadth. It integrates Confucianism’s long durée history across both the Chinese and non-Chinese cultures of East Asia, and links this to analysis of its global entanglements with Europe and America from the early modern period to the present. International Relations theorists and state actors alike have claimed that Confucianism constitutes an alternative to the Westphalian system. Yet histories of Confucianism to date seldom break across national borderlines. Theorizations of Confucianism as global system often rather rely on essentialized conceptions of “Chinese culture” based solely in Chinese “dynastic history”. ++ Major points of global and transnational history have simply been airbrushed from the history of Confucianism. For instance, Vietnamese independence wars against Ming China in the fifteenth century, the Japanese occupation of northern China in the 1930s, and the anti-communist war of the French and U.S. supported regime of South Vietnam in the 1950s, all overtly self-identified as Confucian and employed Confucian ideology and networks centrally in their attacks on the contemporaneous Chinese state and her allies. Yet these examples are never included in histories of Confucianism.++ A truly global history integrating the Chinese and non-Chinese voices of Asia is yet to be attempted.

This project will provide such a global history through new research focused upon: 1) intercultural, cross-cultural, and transnational manifestations of Confucianism, 2) important developments in Confucianism which occurred outside of China – in Central Asia, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the U.S., and 3) an interconnected long durée perspective. It will construct the architecture for a new approach to Confucianism realized through a new generation of scholars, discussions and publications. It will transform how Confucianism is related to culture in academic writing, and in the international relations and political theory discourse that such writing often informs. Never before has a project endeavored to bring together so many languages, such a wide geography, or such an ambitious chronology for the study of Confucianism.

To give an overview of the broader projects into which the LGI Grant would contribute I attach the ERC-COG and CCKF project abstracts as appendixes to this application.

Description of activities

Confucianism’s Global History will bring together 35-40 of the foremost historians of Confucianism working in the English language on a shared research project to show the global interactions of Confucianism over its millennia of history. In cooperation with a wide range of scholars in Taiwan, China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe and beyond, we will research and write a new multi-chapter history of Confucianism which for the first time will take a global and longue durée perspective on the tradition. Chapters will cover from the first millennium BCE until the contemporary period, charting Confucianism’s history through the interaction of various East Asian polities up until the early modern period. In the chapters covering the early modern to contemporary periods, the research will also engage the impact of Confucianism in the European enlightenment and modern US political thought.

The research outcomes will be published as a new volume in Cambridge University Press’s prestigious Cambridge History series, titled The Cambridge History of Confucianism. The press has already offered the project director, Kiri Paramore, a contract to publish this title at a length of 350,000 words. The CCKF grant is intended to fund, over 3 years, the necessary research infrastructure through which the 35 international members will collaborate to realize this project. Led by Kiri Paramore, with Lan Hung-yueh of NCTU, Taiwan, as co-director, the project will set up a web-based platform for sharing the new research outcomes and source readings the transcultural approach of the project will build. It will also fund two major conferences where the 35 researchers will come together to collaboratively work on the chapters – one conference in Leiden, the Netherlands (2018), and one in Hsinchu, Taiwan (2020). In totality, the project will serve to reorient the study of Confucianism towards a more global and transcultural, rather than nation-state centric historiographical approach. It will result in the production of what will become the authoritative single go-to reference work on the global history of Confucianism from antiquity to the present.

The LGI grant will fund preparatory work and meetings between Kiri Paramore and Lan Hung-yueh in both Taiwan and Leiden. This will allow the contours of the project to be firmly set when CCKF funding emerges, and/or in support of a further 2018 ERC-COG application should 2017 ERC-COG be unsuccessful. The meeting in Leiden will include consultation with global history and Asian history colleagues here, who we might ask to engage as commentators and speakers in the later conferences around the volume. These include, in Global History: Jos Gommans, Catia Antunes, Jeroen Duindam, Alicia Schrikker, Carolien Stolte; in Asian Studies and Asian History: Hilde De Weerdt, Harriet Zurndorfer, Saeyoung Park, Remco Breuker, Koen de Ceuster, Ethan Mark, Ivo Smits, Ya-pei Kuo (Groningen, NL), and Oliver Moore (Groningen, NL), among others.

Grantee: Alanna O'Malley (History)   

Grant amount: €23.125

Internationalism and the Challenge to the Liberal World Order, The United Nations and the Rise of the Global South, 1955-1981

From questions of humanitarian intervention, to the problems posed by climate change, the edifice of global governance is currently groaning under a multitude of challenges. The United Nations (UN) is the central organization managing this vast network and coordinating responses to problems such as these. However, the UN is often viewed by academics, politicians and the general public as an institution that has little or no agency and that has traditionally served as a vehicle for the interests of the great powers such as Britain, France and the United States. Challenging this view, the research project I will develop with a Breed Grant from LGI aims to provide a new history of the UN from 1955-1981. I will examine how the organization developed in parallel with the emergence of the Global South (sometimes called the Developing World or Third World) as a group that sought to challenge the liberal world order by enlarging the meaning of decolonization.

I propose to use the Breed Grant to support a teaching buy-out of 1.0FTE from September 2017 - January 2018. This research time will be used to develop this project into an ERC Starting Grant application and to organize an expert workshop on ‘The UN and the Rise of the Global South’ to bring together experts at Leiden University and beyond. This project complements a range of research currently being carried out by historians such as Anne-Isabelle Richard and Caroline Stolte; political scientists such as Niels Willigen and Kai Hebel; and lawyers such as Carsten Stahn and Nico Schrijver among other scholars across Leiden University. It contributes towards the field of global interactions by presenting a revisionist view of the UN and exploring the how Global South countries shaped the current system of global governance.

The project will investigate how the UN helped newly independent nations from Africa and Asia to expand the meaning of decolonization. With the cooperation of Latin American states, the process came to encompass more than just the acquisition of sovereignty, but was broadened to address a wider range of North-South economic, political and social injustices. The research will identify the ways in which the UN developed competencies as Secretariat officials aided Global South countries to form new committees on issues pertaining to decolonization, through which they performed their agency, and helped them to activate the potential of the Charter. In the process, it will examine how different internationalisms were proliferated at the UN, and how Western liberal internationalism was interpreted in different ways, producing varying narratives of internationalism from the Global South.

This research project has three key objectives:

1. To trace how UN agency in support of the Global South was manifested and subsequently developed;

2. To analyze how, and with what institutional tools and mechanisms, actors from the Global South led the campaign for the expansion of decolonization;

3. To show the evolution of decolonization at the UN from a political campaign for independence, to a wider transnational movement for economic and social rights.

Grantee: Dr. Joanita Vroom (Archaeology) 
Grant amount: €23.500

Shifting Empires, Cultural Encounters. Mapping Material Culture and Foodways in the Medieval & Post-Medieval Eastern Mediterranean and Adjacent Near East (600-1900 CE) 

An important but hardly understood problem in archaeology is the long-term development of «East-West relations» in the eastern Mediterranean and adjacent Near East during the period of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires (ca. 6th to 20th century). These empires succeeded each other as main political and cultural power in the region, but their respective rise and decline were closely interwoven. Over a long period of time these empires interacted with each other in the fields of material culture (such as pottery production) and related cultural behaviour (such as dining habits and cooking techniques). Apart from their mutual interactions, both empires also absorbed influences from the «West» (e.g., Crusaders in the Byzantine Empire; Italian traders in the Ottoman Empire) and the «East» (the expanding Arab-Islamic culture).

«Shifting empires, cultural encounters» aims to address for the first time the dynamics of material culture and related cultural behaviour across the 1300 years of interactions between the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires with each other, as well as with the Medieval «West» and the Arab-Islamic «East». The project introduces a new approach to the archaeology of daily life, by studying the complexities of inter- and trans-cultural contacts in the perspective of long-term changes in pottery (the most mobile material product of the past and an indicator of broader patterns of interaction) and foodways (an important marker of social practices). Its results will illuminate changes across time and space in communities usually invisible to the historical record.

The first-class archaeological datasets of major excavations (e.g., Athens, Ephesus, Butrint, Chalkis, Aqaba), exclusively available to this project, the unprecedented supra-regional and temporal scale, and the interdisciplinary approach (combining typo-chronological research, scientific fabric analyses, experimental archaeology, 3D technology, and cultural interpretations) will greatly contribute to the archaeological knowledge of daily life in Byzantine and Ottoman societies, both examples of proto-globalisation. Also, the project offers an opportunity to make major steps forward in the understanding of long-term «East-West relations» in the region under study, as well as of the dynamics between changes in material culture on the one hand and cultural behaviour on the other.

Expected activities 
The Breed Grant will be used to fund an assistant for teaching relief and for relief of other obligations of the grantee during 2017, offering her the opportunity to prepare two research (ERC, NWO) grant proposals which will be built on the earlier results of the grantee’s NWO-VIDI project ‘Material Culture, Consumption and Social Change: New Perspectives for Understanding the Eastern Mediterranean during Byzantine and Ottoman Times’ (2010-2015).

Furthermore, the grant will be used for the organization of an interdisciplinary workshop (provisional title: ‘Archaeological Hotspots in Medieval Europe and Asia (600-1900)’), as well as for the organization of an international expert seminar for an (online) exhibition proposal concerning global interactions, using objects in combination with (3D) pictorial representation of artefacts and of foodways (title: ‘East-West Relations in European Culture – Global Things’; see earlier (online) expositions by the grantee: ; and ).

A student assistant will assist during one term in 2017 with the organization of the workshop and the expert meeting. Lastly, the grant will help to meet some additional publication costs of an edited book including the results of the workshop, which is already accepted by Brepols Publishers.




Grantee: Dr. Michelle Carmody (History and Latin American Studies) 
Grant amount: teaching relief (0.6fte) Jan- June 2017

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?

Jaap Kunst making phonographic recordings in Nias. Photographer unknown. Netherlands, 1930, 18x13cm, Inventory No. TM-60006845

Grantees: Dr. Bart Barendregt (CA-DS), Dr. Wayne Modest (RCMC) and 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.

Grantees: Dr. Sabine Luning (CA-DS) and Dr. Wayne Modest (RCMC) 
Grant amount: €25.100

Global Earth Matters: Mining, Materiality and the Museum 
Despite abounding critical histories of ethnographic museums highlighting different aspects of the museum’s complicit relationship with the colonial project (Bennett, 1995; Simpson 2012; Bouquet, 2013), so far no studies connect ethnographic museums with mining and the world making processes of resource extraction as part of that project. Taking the Colonial Museum, the predecessor of the Tropenmuseum, as a starting point, this project seeks to set a new agenda for both tracing other histories of ethnographic museums, as well as for the rethinking the world-making history of mining.

The Colonial Museum was established in 1864 in Haarlem to encourage interest in the Dutch colonial territories and their economic potential. The museum’s collected samples of different mineral resources such as bauxite, silver and gold were displayed from the processes of ‘harvesting’ to the final product. The Colonial Museum, and its successors, valued trade and formed an open laboratory where the extraction of mined resources and their fashioning into an end product, an object could be explored. The proposed project attempts to retrace histories of the ethnographic museum towards questions of colonial trade and mining.

The project will focus on a set of inter-related objectives. First, we aim to re-center the question of the materiality of the objects in museums collections, especially in relation to questions of labor, craftsmanship, and to global trade power relations. Secondly, the project will explore the ways in which particular materials/minerals contribute to the ‘making’ and imagining of particular places as useful or not (Ferguson 2005). The objective is to rethink connections between sites of power and (colonial) peripheries of extraction.

Finally, we want to foreground the relationship between the materiality of mining practices (mining as infrastructure, as technology) and the diversity of cultural understanding about the earth, its past and its futures.

Activities: Expert Seminars and Research Proposal 
Minerals are good stuff to think with: they offer the possibility for comparative perspectives on global developments. Aluminum has changed the world of design, architecture and mobilities. Its products epitomize cosmopolitan life and accelerated speed in global connections. Gold and silver are emblematic substances for displaying individual wealth, but they also serve as anchors of value in financial systems. These precious metals are associated with adornment of the body as well as with worldwide inequalities and (in) stabilities.

The requested breed grant will be used to organize a series of four expert seminars as a building block towards a larger NWO or ERC funded research proposal entitled Global Earth Matters: Mining, Materiality and the Museum. Three expert seminars will be dedicated to a specific mineral (bauxite, gold and silver) and one to debates on the glitter and gloom of resource futures more generally. For the first three seminars the collections of the National Museum of World Cultures will form a focal point around which our discussions are based. These collections include an extensive collection of photographs on mining in different parts of the world and especially in Indonesia and the Caribbean, the products of mining in crafted objects as well as a small collection of minerals left over from the Trade Museum. These collections will be the starting point for elaborating specific questions that will be addressed in the seminars.

The final expert seminar will focus on resource futures more broadly. It will build upon the material turn in the study of mining: technical shifts in tapping into ‘a netherworld of rocks and reservoirs’ (Bridge 2009) lead to radical rearrangements in the organization of labour, global connections and political representation (Mitchell 2011). This focus on materiality will be brought into conversation with a diversity of cultural perspectives on the earth. We will scrutinize how both the bright and the dark side of mining materialities gives rise to anxieties about the destiny of the globe in times of accelerated consumption and depletion of resources.

This final workshop will also offer the opportunity to elaborate the main strands of the larger research proposal which we hope to submit in 2017.

Bennett, T. (1995). The birth of the museum: History, theory. Politics, 2-4. 
Bouquet, M. (2013). Colonizing the Museum? Contemporary Art, Heritage and Relational Museology. Material Culture Review/Revue de la culture matérielle, 77. 
Bridge, G. (2009). The hole world: Scales and spaces of extraction. New Geographies, 2, 43-48. 
Douglas, M. (2002). The world of goods: Towards an anthropology of consumption (Vol. 6). Psychology Press. Ferguson, J. (2005). Seeing like an oil company: space, security, and global capital in neoliberal Africa. American anthropologist, 377-382. Mitchell, T. (2011). Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books. 
Mitchell, T. (2011). Carbon democracy: Political power in the age of oil. Verso Books. 
Sheller, M. (2014). Aluminum Dreams: The Making of Light Modernity. MIT Press. 
Simpson, M. G. (2012). Making representations: Museums in the post-colonial era. Routledge.

Update: VICI was awarded for this project in 2016.

Building on his current VIDI project, Cultural innovation in a globalizing society: Egypt in the Roman World (running from 2010 to 2015),Miguel John-Versluys was awarded €3000 and will use this grant to fund a teaching assistant which will aid his preparation of a VICI proposal.

Drawing on the results of the VIDI, the VICI should enlarge the framework even more. It will therefore not focus on the Roman Empire as such, but on Rome as part (and result) of global developments in Eurasia and beyond. The other aspect in which the VICI project will shift away from classical approaches to historical development, is that it will put objects and their material agency central as important players with these developments. Contrary to almost all previous research, the VICI project will thus focus on connectivity/globalisation (in stead of power/imperialism) and on objects (instead of people) to account for the genesis and functioning of the Roman Empire.

By applying such a globalising and object-centered approach, the beginnings of Rome will be firmly relocated in the Hellenistic Eastern Mediterranean and Western Eurasia: a place where various world systems came together with the Mediterranean network in a period that is characterised by an unprecedented intensification of globalisation processes. The innovative hypothesis of the project is that the Roman Empire came about through cultural innovations emanating from cosmopolitan centres linking various (cultural) systems and that objects with their agency played a crucially important role with this process.

To test and elaborate this hypothesis, the project will study the material repertoire (and object-scapes) of two important Hellenistic “hubs”: Samosata (at the Euphrates and linking the Eurasian, Iranian and Mediterranean commonwealths) and Alexandria (at the Nile and linking the Mediterranean with the African and Iranian networks). The relevant contacts with archaeological projects working at those sites have already been established so that they will act as partners in the project. The two sites have also been carefully selected in terms of heritage issues. The project will analyse the cultural innovations taking place in these “laboratories” and subsequently look at how these influenced Rome and the Mediterranean network. The effect that objects have on people − their material agency − are central to these analyses. It is the explicit aim of the project to use this (historical) case study on “the agency of global connections” for comparative reasoning, and to analyse how objects in motion make world history more in general.

Miguel John Versluys is Associate Professor of Classical & Mediterranean Archaeology, Faculty of Archaeology  and Co-organizer of the Material Agency Forum (MAF).

Research Projects

Advanced Seminar Grants

Awarded to Dr. Anne-Isabelle Richard (History), Dr. Alanna O'Malley (History) and Dr. Lindsay Black (LIAS). The Seminar will take place in Leiden in 2017.

This one-and-half-day symposium on Global Regionalism investigates how regional alliances and organisations can provide an alternative level of analysis to the nation state and to global perspectives. Recent developments in both the expansion and the fracturing of regional alliances, with the growth of ASEAN, for example, and the departure of Britain from the EU, have led to wider discussions on the viability and functionality of regional organisations. This symposium seeks to bring discussions held in the fields of International Relations or Area studies into conversation with historical approaches to the study of regionalism and global governance, to analyse the evolution of regionalism from the late nineteenth century onwards. The symposium will examine how different regionalisms emerged and evolved in different ways reflecting similar and contrasting trajectories of social and political development across the globe. It will investigate how these regionalisms informed and complemented each other, and interacted both with global institutions and local civil society networks. With a broad scope and a multidisciplinary approach the symposium will connect various types of regional interaction, from identity politics, to customs unions, to relationships with supranational institutions, thus engaging a range of actors beyond the nation state. The papers of the conference will be revised and collected for a special issue of an international peer-reviewed journal.

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) 


Awarded to Dr. Mariana Francozo (Archaeology). October 12-14, 2016. Leiden

Illustrated title page. W. Piso and G. Marcgraf, 1648. Historia Naturalis Brasiliae. Leiden and Amsterdam: Francisicum Hackium and Elsevier

The book Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (HNB), originally published in 1648 by Willem Piso and George Marcgraf, is the one of the most remarkable products of the encounter between early modern European scholarship and South American indigenous knowledge. An in-folio volume of about 400 pages organized in an encyclopedic format, it brings together information about the natural world, linguistics, astronomy, and geography of South America. Piso and Marcgraf collected this information while working for the then governor of the Dutch colony in Brazil, Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen.

The constant confrontation of ancient and classical works with the empirical data from the New World place the HNB in the framework of early modern humanistic scholarship. The commercial and political interests of the Dutch in the Americas are also visibly present in the HNB, thereby highlighting the usefulness of the book as a guide for European explorers in the New World. Moreover, the HNB contains a wealth of information on indigenous uses of plants, native terminology for fauna and flora, as well as descriptions and comments on the ways of life and cultures of different indigenous groups in South America, and a vocabulary of the Tupi and Chilean Mapuche languages. Its editor, Johannes de Laet, had a fundamental role in transforming Piso and Marcgraf’s notes about Brazil and Chile into a comparative treatise on Atlantic knowledge systems, by including contrasting examples of plants and fruits found elsewhere in the Americas, and by highlighting the species imported from West Africa as a by-product of the transatlantic slave trade.

Often overshadowed by the overwhelming figure of its maecenas, Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen, the HNB embodies the intercultural connections that shaped practices of knowledge production in colonial settings across the globe. The aim of this seminar is to consider the HNB as a multi-layered, complex work that deserves to be scrutinized both as a historical document and as an object of intercultural heritage. Instead of considering the book a masterpiece of western science, we will interpret it as the product of intercultural encounters in the Atlantic world and as such provide new frameworks for discussion about both its historical and contemporary relevance. In this seminar, scholars will reflect on this unique cross-cultural treatise from three diverse but complementary perspectives: the biography of the book, the HNB as a source for natural history in its broadest form, and the uses of the HNB today.

This seminar is organized in collaboration with Prof. Tinde van Andel, Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Prof. Michiel van Groesen, Institute for History, Leiden University


Keynote Speaker: Prof. Manuela Carneiro da Cunha (Universidade de São Paulo and University of Chicago)

Dr. Mariana Françozo (Leiden University) 
Prof. Tinde van Andel (Naturalis Biodiversity Center/Leiden University) 
Prof. Michiel van Groesen (Leiden University) 
Prof. Paul Smith (Leiden University) 
Dr. Neil Safier (John Carter Brown Library) 
Dr. Timothy D. Walker (University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) 
Dr. Amy Buono (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) 
Dr. Anjana Singh (Groningen University) 
Jeroen Bos (independent scholar) 
Alex Alsemgeest (independent scholar) 
Dr. Eithne Carlin (Leiden University) 
Adrian Gomes (Leiden University) 
Dr. Aline da Cruz (Universidade Federal de Goiás) 
Mireia Alcántara-Rodriguez, MSc (Naturalis Biodiversity Center)

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