Jasper van der Steen
Jasper van der Steen is assistant professor at the Institute for History.
As a historian of early modern Europe, I am fascinated by two major research areas that have challenged and enriched our historical understanding of power and politics.
The first is dynastic politics and culture and my latest project, 'The Nassaus and the Family Business of Power in Early Modern Europe', has taken a fresh approach to this subject. Scholars focusing on primogeniture and the rise of the modern state have long assumed that family is an irrational social system for governance. Yet, I turn this assumption on its head and argue that the wider family, in fact, plays a vital and often overlooked role in the exercise and transmission of power. Using a conceptual framework developed in business studies, I explored the 'corporate culture' of the Nassau family during the period 1550-1815. By doing so, I developed a new model for writing dynastic history that challenges existing assumptions about family and power. My project, which was supported by the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme (Veni) of the Dutch Research Council, ran from 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2023. My second monograph De Nassaus. Een vorstelijk familiebedrijf 1500-1800 is currently under contract at Prometheus and I published ‘Dynastic Scenario Thinking in the Holy Roman Empire’ in Past & Present (2022). The forthcoming volume Dynastischer Nachwuchs als Hoffnungsträger und Argument in der Frühen Neuzeit, which I co-edited with Irena Kozmanová, will be published by De Gruyter in 2023 and my chapter in the edited volume Dynasties and State Formation in Early Modern Europe (Amsterdam University Press, 2023) will appear in 2023 as well.
My second research interest is in the political potency of the past in early modern Europe. In my first monograph, Memory Wars in the Low Countries, 1566-1700 (Brill, 2015), I investigated the divergence of public memories of the Revolt in the Habsburg Netherlands in the South and the Dutch Republic in the North. I explained how these memories became the objects of fierce contestation in domestic political struggles, on both sides of the border and throughout the seventeenth century. Through this work, I challenged widespread assumptions about the supposed modernity of cultural memory, arguing that early modern public memory did not require the presence of state actors, nationalism, or modern mass media in order to play a role of political importance in both North and South. I have also co-edited and published in open access Memory before Modernity: Practices of Memory in Early Modern Europe with colleagues. Additionally, I have published my research results in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Early Modern Low Countries, and De Zeventiende Eeuw, as well as book chapters on memory and politics in A Cultural History of Memory in the Early Modern Age (Bloomsbury, 2020) and Early Modern War Narratives and the Revolt in the Low Countries (Manchester University Press, 2020).
In addition to my research, I engage with a diverse range of scholars, building networks and fostering collaborations that are essential for advancing our understanding of early modern Europe. I serve as treasurer of the Werkgroep Zeventiende Eeuw, secretary of the Vlaams-Nederlandse Vereniging voor Nieuwe Geschiedenis, and secretary of the foundation Early Modern Low Countries.
2022-present: assistant professor, Leiden University
2018-2022: postdoctoral researcher, Leiden University
2016-2018: wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
2013-2014: lecturer, University of Amsterdam
2008-2016: respectively PhD candidate, lecturer, university lecturer (UD) and postdoctoral researcher, Leiden University
PhD (2014): Leiden University
MA (2009): University of Durham
BA (2007): University College Roosevelt
2017: Veni, Dutch Research Council (NWO)
2015: Rubicon, NWO
2016: Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte Mainz
2015: Leiden University Library