Universiteit Leiden

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Suze Zijlstra

University Lecturer

Dr. S. Zijlstra
+31 71 527 2623

Suze Zijlstra is Assistant Professor of Maritime History. Her current research focuses on seventeenth-century Suriname and New Netherland/New York, and her work on Early America has led to her interest in Maritime History.

More information about Suze Zijlstra


Suze Zijlstra is Assistant Professor of Maritime History. Her current research focuses on seventeenth-century Suriname and New Netherland/New York, and her work on Early America has led to her interest in Maritime History. She is working on a book manuscript on the development of seventeenth-century Suriname through an analysis of the interactions between Native Americans, enslaved Africans, and Europeans. It shows how the conflicts and cooperation between these people shaped the seventeenth-century Atlantic World. This project builds on her PhD dissertation that she defended in 2015 at the University of Amsterdam. After receiving her PhD, she spent a year as postdoctoral fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for Global History. She is currently board member of the Dutch Association for Maritime History and co-convener of the Leiden International Seminar on the Atlantic. Furthermore, she is co-founder and editor of the new Dutch public history blog 'Over de Muur'.

For her PhD dissertation ‘Anglo-Dutch Suriname: Ethnic Interaction and Colonial Transition in the Caribbean, 1651-1682’ Suze has investigated the interactions between indigenous inhabitants, European colonists, and enslaved Africans in Suriname before and after the Dutch conquered the colony from the English in 1667. She argues that colonial development should not be considered from a national perspective as internal developments shaped the colony more than any European takeover did. Suriname’s first three decades demonstrate how the English and the Dutch were similarly limited by local circumstances in their colonizing endeavors, and especially by the actions of Amerindians and Africans. This period emphasizes that resistance to colonization by Amerindians and Africans was at least as important as interethnic cooperation for Suriname’s development.  

Curriculum vitae

2015-2016: Postdoctoral Fellow, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
2014-2015: Lecturer in History, University of Amsterdam and Radboud University, Nijmegen
2010-2015: PhD Candidate, University of Amsterdam
2009-2010: MA in the Dutch Golden Age (with distinction), University College London
2007-2009: Research MA in History (cum laude), University of Amsterdam
2005-2009: BA in Religious Studies (cum laude), University of Amsterdam
2004-2007: BA in History (cum laude), University of Amsterdam

Grants and awards

2015-2016: Niels Stensen Fellowship
2010-2014: NWO PhDs in the Humanities Research Grant
2011: J.R. Bruijn-prijs, MA Thesis Award of the Dutch Association for Maritime History
2009-2010: HSP Talentenprogramma Scholarship
2009-2010: VSBfonds Scholarship
2009-2010: Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Scholarship
2008-2009: J.C.M. Warnsinck Fellowship, National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam

Key publications

  • “Competing for European Settlers: Local Loyalties of Colonial Governments in Suriname and Jamaica, 1660-1680,” Journal of Early American History 4, no. 2 (2014) 149-166.
  • “To Build and Sustain Trust: Long-Distance Correspondence of Dutch Seventeenth-Century Merchants,” Dutch Crossing 36, no. 2 (2012) 114-131.
  • “Flexibele handhaving van de wet. Koloniale belangen en de behandeling van Engelse en Joodse kolonisten door het bestuur van ‘Zeeuws’ Suriname (1667-1682),” in: Het gelijk van de Gouden Eeuw: Recht, onrecht en reputatie in de vroegmoderne Nederlanden, ed. Michiel van Groesen, Judith Pollmann and Hans Cools (Hilversum: Verloren 2014) 141-153.
  •  “Een fragmentarisch verleden: de zeventiende-eeuwse kolonisatie van Suriname in historiografisch perspectief,” in: Verkenningen in de historiografie van Suriname: van koloniale geschiedenis tot geschiedenis van het volk II, ed. Maurits Hassankhan, Jerome Egger and Eric Jagdew (Paramaribo: Anton de Kom Universiteit van Suriname, 2013) 297-324.
  • “Corresponderen om te overleven. Het economische belang van persoonlijke brieven uit zeventiende-eeuws Suriname,” Tijdschrift voor Zeegeschiedenis 31, no. 1 (2012) 27-41.

University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Institute for History
  • Vaderlandse Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga Building
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.72b



  • Nederlandse Vereniging voor Zeegeschiedenis Bestuurslid