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Introducing: Erik Odegard

Erik Odegard is the third PhD-student who's joining Cátia Antunes' 'Challenging Monopolies' project.

"I was born in Amersfoort in 1986 and lived there until I moved to Leiden when I started my studies in history. I attended the Johan van Oldenbarneveldt Gymnasium in Amersfoort (profiel Economie en Maatschappij)  in the period 1999-2005 after which I decided to study history. Having chosen to do so in Leiden I started my bachelor’s degree in 2005, graduating in September 2009 in the field of maritime history. In 2008-2009 I spent a year at the student association SSR in charge of the maintenance of two 17th century monuments in Leiden’s city centre. I was also in charge of the bar, ordering supplies and maintenance of equipment. 

After this one-year gap I could start my studies anew, starting in the maritime history master in 2009 and switching to the research master program half a year later. During my master, I became interested in the cartography and military engineering of the Dutch East India Company through a course taught by Jos Gommans. This course provided the inspiration for my thesis subject, the evolution of fortification designs of the VOC in Asia as compared to contemporary developments in Europe. One conclusion I reached was the great, often decisive, role of personal contacts between engineers and VOC governors in deciding which plans were to be realized. This sparked my interest in the unofficial networks which ran parallel to the official VOC hierarchy. 

After my graduation I worked for some time as the manager of a photo shop in Leiden. Subsequently I worked for two months in a warehouse, unloading shipping containers. All the while I was looking for an opportunity to continue my studies as a PhD. When I read the project description for Catia Antunes’  Challenging Monopolies, Building Global Empires in the Early Modern period project, it immediately roused my interest, as it connected to some of the themes I had encountered in my thesis research. Happily, I got accepted for the position and I can continue my studies at Leiden University."  

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