Universiteit Leiden

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Jos Gommans

Professor of Colonial and Global History

Prof.dr. J.J.L. Gommans
+31 71 527 2167

Jos Gommans is a professor at the Institute for History.

More information about Jos Gommans

Spreekuur / Office hours

Na afspraak / By appointment

Inaugural lecture

Stille onzichtbare streng (in Dutch)

Fields of interest

Global history, colonial history, early-modern history, Indian Ocean, Mughal India, early-modern Islamic empires, South Asian Islam, military history, history of globalization, intellectual history and Dutch Orientalism.

Curriculum vitae

Jos Gommans (1963) studied history in Nijmegen and Leiden. His PhD-thesis focused on the eighteenth-century horse trade between Central Asia and India which created an extensive informal empire dominated by Rohilla and Bangash Afghans (The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire, 1710-1780, Leiden: Brill 1995; republished in paperback at Delhi: Oxford University Press 1999 and Manohar Publishers in 2018). This study also gained new insights into the ecological and geographical background of the long-term interaction between the Indian subcontinent and West and Central Asia. It culminated in his monograph Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and High Roads to Empire (London: Routledge 2002) which offers a fresh geopolitical interpretation of the process of Mughal state-formation. More recently, his work on the Afghan and Mughal empires in South Asia triggered a comparative study on the legacy of the Turco-Mongolian warband that was published in The Indian Frontier: Horse and Warband in the Making of Empires (London: Routledge, 2018).

Since July 2011 Gommans occupies the Chair of Colonial and Global History at Leiden University. As a result, the early modern cultural encounter between Europe and Asia became an important part of his research agenda. Earlier he had already initiated the archival guide series about Dutch Sources of South Asia (Delhi: Manohar Publishers) and had authored two volumes of the Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch East India Company. In 2012, together with Piet Emmer, he published the monograph Rijk aan de rand van de wereld: De geschiedenis van Nederland overzee 1600-1800 (Bert Bakker) to be followed in 2015 by a work on the same topic, edited with Catia Antunes called Exploring the Dutch Empire: Agents, Networks and Institutions, 1600-2000 (Bloomsbury). The surprisingly intimate artistic and intellectual entanglements between the Netherlands and India were investigated in the richly illustrated The Unseen World: The Netherlands and India from 1550 (Rijksmuseum and Vantilt, 2018). A revised English edition of the book with Piet Emmer will come out in 2020 as The Dutch Overseas Empire, 1600-1800 at Cambridge University Press. Currently, Gommans serves as the editor-in-chief of the LUP series Colonial and Global History through Dutch Sources. 

The coming years Gommans plans to bring the various strands of his scholarly interest together in a comparative and connective study on Neoplatonic kingship in the Islamicate world and Europe.  

Throughout the years Gommans supervised major academic projects. From 2011-2016 he was co-leader of the NWO-G Horizon Project on “Eurasian Empires: Integration Processes and Identity Formation”. Since 2012, he is the director of the Cosmopolis Programme which offers intensive academic training to (mainly Asian) historians who study the rich Dutch archives on Asia (and Africa). Other projects that he coordinated include the LUF-funded programme on Indonesia “The Making of Religious Traditions in Indonesia: History and Heritage in Global Perspective (1600-1940)” and the Erasmus Mundus programme on India “IBIES (Interdisciplinary Bridges for Indo-European Studies), both until 2018. At present, he directs an archival project on the Dutch factory in Hirado based at Nichibunken, Japan, funded by the Ailion Foundation (IAAF).

Major publications







The Rise of the Indo-Afghan Empire (c.1710-1780) (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994) Reprint Pbk: (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999)








Edited with D.H.A. Kolff, Warfare and Weaponry in South Asia (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001); Reprint Pbk 2003







With L. Bes and G. Kruijtzer, Dutch Sources on South Asia c. 1600-1825. Vol. 1:Bibliography and Archival Guide to the National Archives at the Hague (TheNetherlands) (Delhi: Manohar Publishers. 2001).







Edited with J. Leider, The Maritime Frontier of Burma: Exploring Political, Cultural andCommercial Interaction in the Indian Ocean World, c. 1000-1800 (Amsterdam: KNAW and Leiden: KITLV, 2002).








Mughal Warfare: Indian Frontiers and Highroads to Empire 1500-1700 (London: Routledge, 2002). Hbk, Pbk, E-book.








Edited with Om Prakash, Circumambulations in South Asian History: Essays in Honourof Dirk H.A. Kolff (Leiden: E.J. Brill Publishers, 2003).







Edited with Harriet Zurndorfer, Roots and Routes of Development in China and India: Highlights of Fifty Years of The Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (1957-2007) (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2008)







Ed., Empires and Emporia: The Orient in World Historical Space and Time: Jubilee Issue of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 53,1-2 (2010). See also Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient






With Jeroen Bos en Gijs Kruijtzer, Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie / Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch United East India Company, Deel VI: Voor-Indië, Perzië en het Arabisch Schiereiland / Part VI: India, Persia and the Arabian Peninsula (Voorburg: Asia Maior / Atlas Maior Publishers, 2010)






With Rob van Diessen, Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie / Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch United East India Company, Deel VII: Oost Azië, Birma tot Japan / Part VII: East Asia, Burma to Japan (Voorburg: Asia Maior/Atlas Maior Publishers, 2010).








With Piet Emmer, Rijk aan de rand van de wereld: Geschiedenis van Nederland overzee 1600-1800 (Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 2012)







Edited with Catia Antunes, Exploring the Dutch Empire: Agents, Networks and Institutions, 1600-2000 (London: Bloomsbury Academic. 2015)






The Unseen World: India and the Netherlands from 1550 (Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum and VanTilt, 2018).







The Indian Frontier: Horse and Warband in the Making of Empires (Delhi: Manohar Publishers, 2018)


Professor of Colonial and Global History

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.71



No relevant ancillary activities

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