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GI grants awarded to Mariana Francozo, Sabine Luning and Wayne Modest

Global Interactions is pleased to announce that we have awarded a GI Advanced Seminar grant to Dr. Mariana Francozo (Archaeology) for 'Historia Naturalis Brasiliae' and a Breed Grant for 'Global Earth Matters' to Dr. Sabine Luning (CA-DS) and Dr. Wayne Modest (RCMC)

Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (GI Advanced Seminar Grant)

Chair: Dr. Mariana C. Françozo (Faculty of Archaeology)
Leiden, fall 2016 
Participants: to be announced

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

The book Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (HNB), originally published in 1648 by Willem Piso and George Marcgraf, is the first product of the encounter between early modern European scholarship and South American indigenous knowledge. A n 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, and is the earliest example of such in South America. 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

A digital copy of this book is available at the website of Missouri Botanical Garden Library here


Global Earth Matters: Mining, Materiality and the Museum (Breed Grant)

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

Project Description 

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 theColonial 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 matérielle77
Bridge, G. (2009). The hole world: Scales and spaces of extraction. New Geographies2, 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.

GI Advanced Seminar Grants

These grants provide support for a workshop that will result in a collective publication that beings emergent approaches and innovative insghts to the field of global interactions and dynamics. A seminar consists of 5 to 10 scholars including one or two who serve as chair(s). Depending on the size, the group meets for three to five days of intense discussion. Seminar papers are circulated amongst participants at least one month prior to the seminar and are discussed during the sessions. These discussions also include a consideration of recent or emergent innovations in theory and method, an appraisal of crosscutting issues, and a synthesis of ideas. The resulting papers will be submitted to an academic press or journal as a special issue for publication. For more information about this program please see: Advanced Seminar grants.

GI Breed Grants

These grants for Leiden faculty offer a flexible scheme that focuses on supporting mini ‘sabbaticals’ tailored to support one or more researchers who situate the study of global interactions as a primary component in their research. For more information about this grant program please see: GI Breed grants 
For more information about the research profile Global Interactions, please visit our website
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