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International Leiden Mayflower 400 Conference GOES ONLINE

Wednesday 26 August 2020 - Friday 28 August 2020
Due to the corona pandemic measures, the Leiden-Mayflower400 conference will be held online.
This 1620 painting by Adam Willaerts may depict the Pilgrims’ departure from Delfshaven, near Rotterdam. Rose-Marie and Eijk de Mol van Otterloo Collection

Four Nations Commemoration, 1620-2020:  The Pilgrims and the Politics of Memory

2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower to America. Of the one hundred English “Pilgrims” undertaking the 1620 voyage, fifty hailed from Leiden, the Netherlands, where they had lived as religious refugees since 1609. The Mayflower voyage and the foundation of Plymouth Colony have become linked with origin narratives of the United States, which ignore not only the Pilgrims’ almost twelve-year sojourn in Leiden and the larger Atlantic networks in which they were operating, but also, more importantly, the continuing impact of colonialism on indigenous societies and cultures.

While a century ago, as a recent exhibition at Pilgrim Hall Museum in Plymouth, Mass., has shown, the tercentenary of the founding of Plymouth in 1920 was, “unabashedly, a celebration of America’s founding,” such a blithely nationalist narrative no longer is acceptable in an age in which we have become increasingly aware of the need to find more inclusive ways to memorialize “difficult” histories in all their historical, ideological, and ethical complexities.

The international Leiden Mayflower 400 conference will take place online via MS Teams on August 26-28, 2020. More than thirty international scholars from Europe and the U.S. will participate. Because of the different times zones of the participants, the sessions will be held from 15:00 (3 pm) to 21:00 (9pm) CEST (local time Leiden); see program below. The keynote lecture by Prof. Francis Bremer (Wed. August 26, 20:00-21:00 CEST) and the two plenary round tables (Thursday, August 27, 19:30-20:45: Native American roundtable led by Paula Peters; Friday, August 28. 16:45-18:00: roundtable in honor of Jeremy Bangs) will be open (online) to the public after registration.
Registration general public:
To register for the conference, please send an email to conference assistant Monica Lensink. Registration deadline: August 21.

Program (CEST-Leiden Local Time)

14.45‐15.00 Online entry
15.00‐15.30 Conference Opening by Johanna C. Kardux and words of welcome by Leiden Mayor Henri Lenferink, Prof. dr. Carel Stolker, President of Leiden University, and Michaël Roumen, Leiden400

Parallel Panels 1 + 2

1. Colonial‐Indigenous Interactions: Wampanoag and Haudenosaunee

  • James Ring Adams (National Museum of the American Indian - Smithsonian), What They Should Have Known 
  • Eileen Speijer (Sorbonne),  The Haudenosaunee and the Dutch colonists in New Netherland: Collaboration and Communication (1609-1674) 
  • Iris Plessius (RU Nijmegen), “Here in This Place”: Dutch-Haudenosaunee Diplomacy between 1674 and 1696    

2. Law and covenantal religion in Puritan New England

  • Scott Douglas Gerber (Ohio Northern U / Brown), Law and Religion in Plymouth Colony
  • Nan Goodman (CU Boulder), From the "Northern Parts of Virginia" to "Cape-Cod": Legal Pluraritis and the Synonymic Manipulation of Jurisdiction in the Mayflower Compact
  • Sarah Hall (York U), Covenants, obligation and regulation in early New England Puritan communities.            
17.00‐17.30 Break

Parallel panels 3 + 4

3. Native‐Americans/slavery/political economy/language 

  • Steve Cushion (U and College Union, London), The Absence of the New England-Caribbean link in the Mayflower 400 Commemorations. 
  • Margaret E. Newell (Ohio State U), From 1619 to 1620: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery                        
  • Margaret Noodin & Johannes Britz (UW-Milwaukee / U Pretoria), Anishinaabe and Afrikaans Stories of Pilgrims, Farmers and Relationships of Settlement  

4. Colonization and Anglo-Dutch relations  

  • Jaap Jacobs (St Andrews), Competing Claims: Anglo-Dutch Rivalry in Early Seventeenth Century North America      
  • Lauren Lauret (Leiden), Following in the Pilgrims' footsteps? Dutch Travellers in the United States and their Critique of American Society, 1780-1860.                    
  • Mathilde Roza (RU Nijmegen), Jo Spier’s pen drawings of Dutch 17th-century exploration and colonialism in the New World as manifestations of Dutch identity                        
18.45‐19.30 Break
19:30-19:45 Video: Virtual Tour of Jean Pesijnhof, the site of John Robinson’s house across from the Pieterskerk
  20.00‐20.45 Keynote Francis J. Bremer: "Leiden and the Pilgrim Way"
20.45‐21.00 Q&A keynote

Parallel panels 5 + 6

5. Constructing Pilgrim Memory: Memorials, Museums, Commemorations.

  • Emily Wilday Ricker (U Hawai‘i, Mānoa), Museums, Membership Organizations, and Memory Work: Contemporary Perpetuation of and Pushback to Colonial Mythologies in New England 
  • Anna Scott (Lincoln U), Challenging the Myth: Re-imagining the Pilgrims, Pilgrim Roots & Mayflower 400             

6. Indigenous Centers, European Peripheries: Re-Thinking the Narrative of European Invasion  

  • Kristofer Ray (Hull), Towards an Indigenous Frontier Thesis: England, France, and Native Power in Trans-Appalachia 1585-1715
  • Sarah Smeed (Kent), Face-to-Face: Head styling and Image in Euro-Indigenous relations c. 1620 – 1720
  • Raymond Orr (Oklahoma U), Comparative Perspectives on Early Violence in Settler Societies: Australia and US            
16.15-16.45 Break

Parallel panels 7 + 8    
7. AlterNative visions of origins           

  • Cathy C. Waegner (Siegen), "Somehow we need Indians”: Postcolonial Humor and Transnational Commemoration in Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play (2018). 
  • Carla Pestana (UCLA), Plymouth Plantation’s significance, then and now                  

8. Revisiting Mourt’s Relation and other Early Puritan Texts           

  • Kathryn Gray (U Plymouth), Linear and Non-Linear Narrative: The Fragments of Mourt’s Relation    
  • Monika Mueller (U Bochum), “Look down and see my plague sores . . . my saviour”: The Disobedient Body in Puritan Writing                      
18:00-18:45 Break 
18:45-19:15 Video: A Virtual Tour of the 1620-2020 Exhibition Pilgrims to America – and the Limits of Freedom in Lakenhal Museum, Leiden, by curator Jori Zijlmans
19.30-20.45 Plenary Round Table: A Critical Backstory to Colonization. Panel members: Paula Peters (Mashpee Wampanoag, independent scholar and owner SmokeSygnals Communications), Hartman Deetz (Mashpee Wampanoag, environmental activist), and Michelle L. Cook (Honagháahnii Clan of the Navajo nation and human rights lawyer). 

Parallel panels 9 + 10  

9. Pilgrim memory work in Children's literature and school books and popular iconography  

  • Abram Van Engen (Washington U), Twentieth-Century Pilgrims and Puritans
  • Joshua Parker (Salzburg U), Holland Mania and American Children’s Literature, 1880-1920   
  • Jonathan Beecher Field (Clemson U), Pilgrims, Natives, & Settler Kitsch                     

10. Historical Culture and the Afterlife of the Mayflower in Britain, 1870s-1940s 

  • Tom Hulme (Queen’s U Belfast), Anglo-Saxons and English-Speaking Peoples: Colonialism, Racial Theory and the Mayflower                    
  • Ed Downey (Queen’s U Belfast), John Boyle O'Reilly: Fenian Revolutionary and Mayflower Poet                    
  • Martha Vandrei (Exeter U), Knowledge, memory, mythography: the Mayflower in the work of James Rendel Harris (1852-1941)                    
16.15-16.45 Break
16:45-18.00 Plenary Round Table: The Great Significance of Jeremy Bangs for Pilgrim Studies. Panel members: Francis J. Bremer (Millersville U), Jaap Jacobs (St. Andrew’s), David Lupher (U of Puget Sound), Peggy Baker (former director Pilgrim Hall), James Baker (Plymouth historian) and Sarah Moine (curator Leiden American Pilgrim Museum)
18:00 Closing words


Keynote speaker:

Francis J. Bremer, Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University, and internationally renowned Puritanism scholar and coordinator of the website New England Beginnings.


College van Bestuur Leiden University, Leiden University Fund, Leiden University Institute for History and Centre for the Arts in society (LUCAS), Office of the Mayor of Leiden, and Leiden 400.

For more information

Write to Johanna C. Kardux, or to conference assistant Monica Lensink.

Organizing committee

Advisory Board

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