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Tolerant migrant cities? The case of Holland 1600-1900

Tuesday 9 June 2020
Kaltura (Online)

The next (joint) LIMS and CMGI Brown Bag Seminar

Prof. dr. Manon van der Heijden: 'Tolerant migrant cities? The case of Holland 1600-1900'

In current debates, Dutch early modern cities are portrayed as prime examples of harmonious societies in which migrants and native born lived peacefully together. Discrimination of migrants by criminal courts was non-existent, nor were there any conflicts or violence between native city dwellers and immigrants.
This image is even more remarkable when one considers that before 1800 migrants made up ca. 25 to 60% of the urban residents. Their culture, language and customs were different from locals and many of them ended up in the poorest layers of society. So, this raises the questions: how credible is the image of the tolerant Dutch cities really, and how has this changed over time?

Van der Heijden's research examines migrants through the eyes of the courts in the highly urbanized coastal provinces of the Netherlands (Holland) between 1600 and 1900. It aims to reveal patterns of continuity and change in: (1) Treatment of migrants by criminal courts; and (2) Violence and conflicts between migrants and native born. Holland is an excellent case study for various reasons: between 1600 and 1830 it was characterized by exceptionally high immigration and in the course of the period the proportion and types of migrants changed considerably. The research is feasible because of the ample availability of legal sources, which have hardly been examined. To what extent does the image of tolerant Dutch cities in Holland need to be adjusted and what are the implications for the present?

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