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Research theme: Global History, Heritage and Memory

The research theme Global History, Heritage and Memory is concerned with the question of how big social changes are translated in heritage and memory.

Big social changes are changes in power relations, culture, social structure, religion, economic organization and/or the natural environment that have a more than local reach and leave societies profoundly altered. Such changes include, for instance, the formation of national, imperial, colonial and postcolonial states, the emergence of global markets, industrialization, urbanization, the acceleration of communication and information, secularization, the rise of world religions, the growth of long range migration, the rise and decline of unfree labour, and environmental degradation and climate change.

Research in 'Global history, heritage and memory' studies such overarching changes in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas in relation to practices of memory and processes of heritage formation from Late Antiquity till the present.

The research cluster includes a number of working groups, studying the following subthemes, in cooperation with partners inside and outside VU Amsterdam:

Global history and heritage in a (post)colonial world

Studies: world heritage sites and stories; transnationalism in cultures; (extra-) territoriality and identity; colonialism and historiography.

More information on its projects and activities can be found on the Research Portal of the History Department.

History and heritage of slavery and the slave trade

Studies: the economic impact, memories and geographies of slavery and the slavery trade.

Includes: the Werkgroep Slavernijstudies, which cooperates with NINsee, the Amsterdam Museum and the Bijlmer Parktheather in the Platform Slavernijverleden (funded by the Municipality of Amsterdam), and the NWO-funded research project ‘Slaves, commodities and logistics’, in cooperation with the International Institute of Social History and the University of Leiden.

Globalization, urbanization and knowledge

Studies: imperialism and science; interrelations between globalization and the making, transmission and appropriation of knowledge in an urban context.

Collaborates with: the Stevin Centre for the History of Sciences and Humanities (VU University) and the working group ‘Knowledge and the city, ca. 1450 – ca. 1800’ and the project ‘Urbanizing nature’ at the University of Antwerp.

Cultures and sacral geographies of religious groups

Studies: national and global bible belts; religious landscapes; religion, civil society and nation states.

Collaborates with: the Digibron project, the VU-Centrum voor Nederlandse Religiegeschiedenis and the Biblebelt Network.

Living with water

Studies: human survival strategies in relation to water; natural disasters; harvesting from the sea; harbours and water fronts.

Collaborates with, among others, the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam.

Research Coordinator Dr. Pepijn Brandon

As of 2021, dr. Pepijn Brandon is the new coordinator of the CLUE+ research programme Global History, Heritage and Memory. The programme houses a thematically diverse set of working groups. All engage with the complex relationship between the local and the global in processes of social change, as well as the creation of collective narratives about the past. 

Pepijn’s work focuses among other topics on the inherently global history of capitalism in connection to regionally specific histories of war, dispossession, and enslavement. As programme coordinator, he intends to pay particular attention to the question how our views on global history can be enriched by further extending cooperation between researchers from the Global North and from the Global South.