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Global History

Research and teaching in this group approaches global history from an integrated perspective that combines economic, social, and environmental history with the social sciences, from 1500 up to the present.

We are interested in a longue durée and comparative approach to the history of various world regions. Questions we ask include: How do slave labour and other types of forced labour contribute to economic development? How do patterns of migration and circulation of ideas influence globalization? What can the history of the social sciences explain about how we view the world? How do people cope with climate change and other environmental changes?

The Global History group comprises of three research groups: Global Economic and Social History, Water and Environmental History and Global History from an Anthropological Perspective.

Chair of Global Economic and Social History

The Global Economic and Social History (GESH) Chair group investigates the history of flows of goods, people, and ideas around the world, It closely cooperates with the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam (IISG) which specializes on social movements, labour history and the history of capitalism. We ask questions such as: How do knowledge societies and economies develop? How do cities deal with worldwide economic changes? What effects does capitalism have on cultural change? How do large-scale economic and social developments affect heritage and collective memory?

Our focus areas

  • Knowledge societies and economies
  • Capitalism, culture and society
  • Trade networks
  • (Forced) labour and migration

We coordinate the minor American studies and teach the following courses: BA History and International studies (HIS): World History 500-1800 and 1800-2000; Social History of the United States; History and Social sciences; Transatlantic connections; BA Geschiedenis: Handel en kapitalisme; Geschiedenis en sociale wetenschappen; MA/RMA Global History: Slavery, abolition and compensation; Methodologies. Also we offer tutorials on economic and social history themes and advise on theses and internships.

Research projects

Teaching Staff
Pepijn Brandon, Professor of Global Economic and Social History
Ulbe Bosma, Endowed professor of International and Comparative Social History and researcher at the IISG
Wybren Verstegen, Assistant professor in Economic and Social History
Lucas Poy, Assistant Professor in Global Economic and Social History, with a focus on Latin America
Karel Davids, Emeritus full professor of Economic and Social History
Wantje Fritschy, Emeritus endowed professor of History of government finances
Jan Lucassen, Emeritus endowed professor of International and Comparative Social History

PhD students

 NameResearch Project
Tamira CombrinkSlaves, commodities and logistics
Heleen BlommersDeconstructing the war on poverty: the rise of a policy failure narrative, 1964-1985
Tzu-Yi (Dylan) HsuChinese capital, land ownership and labour migration in the early VOC empire
Gerrie LierensActoren en discrepanties op de Nederlandse arbeidsmarkt na 1945
Sam MiskeLand Grabbing in Southeast Asia: Company, Conquest, and Indigenous Power in the Banda Islands and West-Java, 17th Century
Ruud PaesieHet Korendragersgilde in Amsterdam, ca. 1550- 1900
Zawdie SandvlietLand Grabbing in the Dutch Atlantic: Land, Indigenous rights and African slavery in New Netherland and Suriname
Pauline WittebolAmsterdamse handelsnetwerken en Amerika in de 18de eeuw
Jan Willem de WijnMigratie: het Aalsmeermodel

Institutional embedding
GESH researchers are members of these institutes:

Chair of Water and Environmental History

This research group approaches the relationship between humans, landscape and animals from an ecological, social-economic and political perspective. In this way we hope to contribute to a more sustainable world. Questions we ask include: how do people cope with climate change and other ecological changes? What are the historical roots of the globalization of more sustainable behaviour and politics? How is nature an agency in historical development?

Our focus areas

  • History of water institutions and water governance
  • Drinking water, drought and climate change
  • Natural disasters, water security and floods
  • Animal-human relations

We coordinate the minor European urban and cultural history and the RMA Global history track, and teach the following courses, in cooperation with other Chair groups: BA History and International studies: World History 500-1800; Water and Enviromental History; BA Geschiedenis: Amsterdam: A Historical Introduction; MA/RMA Global History: History of Natural Disasters; From Source to Public; Environmental Humanities. Also we offer tutorials on environmental history and advise on theses and internships.

Research projects

Teaching Staff

Petra van Dam, Full professor of Water and Environmental History
Milja van Tielhof, Postdoc and Senior-researcher at the Huygens Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis

PhD students

 NameResearch Project
Berco HoegenHistory of the soft wood plantations (coppicing practices) in the river area
Dániel Moerman‘When the Well Runs Dry’: Drinking Water and Climate Adaptation in the Eastern Netherlands, 1600-1850

Institutional embedding
WEH researchers are members of these institutes:

Chair of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective

Global History from an Anthropological Perspective is a research group that combines methodological and conceptual insights from history and anthropology to come to a better understanding of societies’ present and past. Research and teaching focuses on themes such as migration, ethnicity, nationalism and cosmopolitanism; state formation and the construction of sovereignty and identity; and the social and political dimensions within which history and memory exist. Our research encompasses the modern and contemporary history of Europe, Africa, and Asia and the Caribbean.

Our staff members teach bachelor's courses on Global History; Empires and States in Globalising World, 1500-present; Global Migration History; International Relations from Below; and  International Organisations. They also offer master's tutorials on the history and anthropology of mobility and on modern China. Our staff members coordinate the minor in Migration Studies. We provide thesis supervision for bachelor’s and master’s students wishing to write about the history and anthropology of migration, mobility, state and identity formation, and transnationalism based on archival research, "ego documents" and life history research, material culture studies and anthropological methods and techniques.

Research projects

Teaching Staff

Pál Nyíri, Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective
Norah Karrouche, Assistant professor
Younes Saramifar, Assistant Professor in Inhumanities, with a focus on the history and anthropology of Political Violence
Marjolein ‘t Hart, Emeritus professor of the History of State Formation in Global Perspective
Zhu Yidan, visiting research fellow, Project about non-elite intellectuals in Republican China.

Institutional embedding
Our staff members also hold appointments at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology and the Huygens Institute of the History of the Netherlands (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). Moreover, they are members of research centres and schools including: