Universiteit Leiden

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Luc Bulten


L.J. Bulten MA
+31 71 527 2771

Luc Bulten, MA (1993) is a social historian interested in human social interactions with and within (colonial) institutions throughout history. His current research is focussed on the colonial history of early modern South Asia, specifically in regards to the registration of land and people by the Dutch East India Company's colonial government in Sri Lanka.

More information about Luc Bulten

Luc has taught several BA, MA and Honours courses in Nijmegen, Groningen and Leiden, mostly related to early modern and colonial history. He has also supervised several BA and MA thesis students and internships. 

For any questions in regards to teaching, supervision or research feel free to send him an e-mail. 


Within the NWO-granted 'Colonialism Inside Out: Everyday Experience and Plural Practice in Dutch Institutions in Sri Lanka (c. 1700-1800)' project, Luc's doctoral research concerns the registration of land and people by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in eighteenth-century Sri Lanka. In his dissertation, he focusses on the process and workings of registration from the perspective of the 'registered'. How did local agents respond to the colonial registration projects? How could they influence the process of documentation of themselves and their lands? And could local agents utilise or appropriate this colonial knowledge in any way, and if yes, how?

His work shows that the common understanding of registration in colonial settings as a one-sided process is wrong, and that local agents could wilfully and purposefully influence what was documented and how. Moreover, local agents, such as landowners, could appropriate such documentation to see their property and social status recognised by both the colonial state, and other members of their community (e.g. by utilising said registers as evidence in court cases).

Curriculum vitae

  • Lecturer Early Modern History, Institute for History, Leiden University (2021-).
  • Lecturer Early Modern History, History department, University of Groningen (2021).
  • PhD candidate Economic, Social, and Demographic History, Radboud University Nijmegen (2017-).
  • Research project: 'Reconsidering Colonial Registration: Documenting People, Property and Labour in Eighteenth-Century Dutch Sri Lanka' (expected finalisation March 2022).
  • Research intern Historical Sample of the Dutch Indies, International Institute of Social History (2017).

Key publications

  • Bulten, L.J. & Lyna, D.B.G.W. (2021). Classifications at work. Social categories and Dutch bureaucracy in colonial Sri Lanka. Itinerario, 45 (2).
  • Bulten, L.J., Kok, J., Lyna, D.B.G.W. & Rupesinghe, N. (2018). Contested conjugality? Sinhalese marriage practices in eighteenth-century Dutch colonial Sri Lanka. Annales de Demographie Historique, 135 (1).


  • Jan Kok, Luc Bulten & Bente de Leede (in press), ‘Persecuted or permitted? Fraternal Polyandry in a Calvinist colony, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), 17th and 18th centuries’, Continuity and Change 36 (3) (expected December 2021).
  • Dries Lyna & Luc Bulten, 'Material Pluralism and Colonial Bureaucracies. Palm Leaf Deeds and Land Grants in Colonial Sri Lanka, 1680-1795', Law and History Review (forthcoming article in special issue, expected 2022).


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.72a


  • Opgenomen in intern register
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