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Five History projects selected for Research Traineeship Programme 2016-2017

Five research projects of the Institute for History have been selected for the Research Traineeship Programme 2016-2017. The programme was initiated by The Faculty of Humanities to offer motivated students the opportunity to develop themselves in academic research.

In December the research trainees, who are currently being selected, will start working on the projects. Students interested in developing themselves in an academic setting and gaining experience in research can apply until 28 November 2016 through contacting the project organisation

The following projects of the Institute for History were selected by the review committee. All projects were established in collaboration with colleagues from other institutes.

Diversifying the Collections: Inclusive Citizenship and Public Histories of Exclusion - Monika Baar, Paul van Trigt (both History) and Paul Bijl (KITLV)

In educational settings such as museums, universities and schools, white, male, able-bodied and rational subjects still dominate. Although there has been a lot of theoretical work on processes of in- and exclusion through racialization, sexualization, and disabilization, we still know very little about the actual representations and absences of minority group in such contexts. The recent discussion about the use of words like ‘neger’ in the Rijksmuseum is telling in this respect. Why do we still have such difficulties in creating inclusiveness and how can we deal with these processes in a historically responsible way? In our project we will investigate how and why minority groups including women, members of LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities and various ethnicized groups were and are represented (or precisely not) in two museums.

Religious Narratives as Plausibility Structures - Kim Beerden (Ancient History) and Markus Davidsen (Religious Studies)

Religions involve belief in the unbelievable: in evil spirits causing disease, in souls surviving death, and in gods punishing wrongdoers and blessing the just. Cognitive studies suggest that humans are predisposed to speculate about fate and divine agency, but support from so-called ‘plausibility structures’ is needed for spontaneous religious cognition to develop into firmly held beliefs about particular deities. This project investigates the role of religious narratives as plausibility structures for religion. More concretely, it aims to test and develop a theory on the persuasive power of religious narratives developed by Markus Altena Davidsen. To test the theory, this project investigates the persuasive power of narratives in two cases: the Apollonian cult at Delphi and the International Raëlian Movement (a contemporary UFO religion).

‘Being a slave’ Indian ocean slavery in local context - Alicia Schrikker (History) and Nira Wickramasinghe (Modern South Asian Studies)

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. Although we know that slave occupations were diverse, we know very little 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.

Mapping the Ocean: Georeferencing Maritime History - Michiel van Groesen (Maritime History) and Martijn Storms (University Library)

Maps play a crucial role in our view of the past, yet few historians are sufficiently skilled in cartography to genuinely integrate maps into their research. This project breaks down the long-standing barriers between history and cartography by inviting emerging scholars (ResMA) to reflect on maps as an intricate part of historical research, and shape the future of two interrelated fields of scholarship. The focus will be on maritime maps of the Indian Ocean world and Atlantic world made in the early modern Low Countries (1550-1800), as it is precisely this intersection of research that still suffers from a combination of traditional national agendas eulogizing the cartographic achievements of the VOC and WIC, and an exclusive, somewhat technical methodology inaccessible for the non-cartographically trained. This project's main objective is to trace the extent of foreign and indigenous influences on 'Dutch' cartographic knowledge in Asia and the Americas. This will be achieved by using georeferencing to analyse the accuracy of maritime maps.

Who are the Squatters? - Bart van der Steen (History) and Peter Burgers (Journalism & New Media)

This project sets out to map, document and analyze instances of squatting in Leiden from 1970 to 1990, in order to set up an online Digital Archive of Squatting in Leiden. This archive will function as an online resource for academic research, as well as a starting point for public activities such as a historical walking tour through Leiden. Although the practice of squatting houses in the Netherlands is currently near-extinct, the word continues to evoke lively images of punk youths who confront (riot) police in spectacular conflicts over occupied houses and buildings. In fact, the image has become a staple in Dutch popular culture and even European cultural memory. In reality, however, the group of people who squatted was much more diverse.

The complete proposals of the projects that were selected and more information about the programme in general, can be found on the page of the Research Traineeship Programme

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