Universiteit Leiden

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Independent research into House of Orange-Nassau and Dutch colonial history

King Willem-Alexander has commissioned independent research into the role of the House of Orange-Nassau in Dutch colonial history. The research will take three years to complete and will cover the period from the late 16th century to the postcolonial present. The research will be carried out at Leiden University.

The King said the following about the research into his family history: ‘In-depth knowledge of the past is essential to understanding historical facts and developments and gaining clear and honest recognition of their impact on individuals and communities. I think it is important that such knowledge also becomes available with regard to the role of the House of Orange-Nassau in the colonial past. This should be based on thorough, critical and independent research, which I have now commissioned.’

An independent committee headed by Professor Gert Oostindie will oversee the research and offer its own expertise. The committee will independent and autonomous in its selection and appointment of researchers to work on the project.

The committee comprises the following members:

  • Gert Oostindie (chair and principal investigator), Emeritus Professor of Colonial and Postcolonial History at the Institute for History at Leiden University. Oostindie was the director of the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies until the end of 2021. In 2006, he published an initial study of the historical role of the House of Orange-Nassau in Dutch colonial history in the book De parels en de kroon (The Pearls and the Crown).   
  • Esther Captain, a historian, senior researcher and member of staff at the KITLV in Leiden. Captain specialises in the postcolonial Netherlands in relation to Indonesia and the Caribbean. She has also worked on research into slavery and colonialism in Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague.
  • Kathleen Ferrier, an expert in international relations, human rights, and diversity and inclusion. Ferrier advised the Municipality of Amsterdam about a new museum of slavery and was an MP (CDA) for ten years with portfolios including international cooperation, education, healthcare and social affairs.
  • Henk te Velde, Professor of Dutch History at the Institute for History at Leiden University. Te Velde is also chair of the Royal Netherlands Historical Society (KNHG) and a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).

Committee chair and principal investigator Gert Oostindie: ‘It is a great honour to be able to fulfil this role together with the committee and shortly a team of researchers. In my eyes, the King has taken a very meaningful step by commissioning this research. As I also noted in my Cleveringa Lecture on 24 November, institutions such as parliament, the royal family, cities and the business community are taking increasing responsibility for the past. And that applies now once again and most emphatically to the royal family. I can only applaud that.’

Banner photo: RVD - Patrick van Katwijk
Header photo: RVD - Martijn Beekman

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