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Globalisation, Capitalism, Colonialism

Movements of people, their artefacts and ideas across space, and the connections between societies that arise out of those movements, are inherent to the human condition.

Acceleration of such movements across the globe and the deepening impact this has had on local societies lay at the root of our current age of globalization. The economic and political context in which this has taken place have been shaped profoundly by the emergence of capitalism as the dominant form of economic life, and the process of colonization and de-colonization as key aspect of today’s world of nation-states. Both capitalism and colonialism have driven, and continue to shape, processes of global integration and the intensification of trans-national interaction. They lay at the root of great social dynamism, but also of severe inequalities in income, wealth and opportunities, while creating or reinforcing important forms of social exclusion on the basis of class, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Inequal patterns of globalization, capitalism and the long legacies of colonialism also play a formative role in some of today’s most urgent societal problems, from climate change to the global rise of authoritarianism, and from the imposition of severe and often deadly forms of policing borders to the difficulties that societies across the globe face in integrating their divisive histories of violence, colonialism, slavery and other forms of coerced labour into more just visions of the future.

Researchers in this program approach the problems and challenges of creating more equitable forms of global interaction from an explicitly trans-national angle. They try to unsettle established narratives on individuals, nations, and global interactions that have the nation as their methodological point of departure. They ask question about the impact of transnational movements on national identity and global cultures and their representation in literature and other media. They track the complicated relationship between the formation of the nation-state and global practices, as well as the way in which the human imagination projected fictions and myths onto notions of nationhood. A core ambition of this research program is to implement this approach not just through seeking cooperation across departments and faculties at the VU, but also through international cooperation with a strong emphasis on cooperation with scholars of and from the Global South.

Research Centers & Affiliated Researchers

  • Unhinging the National Framework (Babs Boter – co-director program)
  • Migration and Diversity Center?
  • HDC Centre for Religious History?

International cooperations:

  • Global History Network
  • Fudan / East China Normal University
  • Centre for the Study of Slavery and Justice (Brown University)

Main / potential academic disciplines covered

  • Global History
  • Language, Literature and Communication
  • Philosophy and Postcolonial theory
  • Migration Law

Key Topics

  • Capitalism
  • Colonialism and decolonization
  • Migration
  • Trade
  • Inequality
  • Dispossession
  • Citizenship
  • Circulation of knowledge
  • National identity/nationhood
  • Transnationality
  • Representations of (trans)nationality
  • Imagination
  • Myths
  • Media, Literature

Research Coordinators: Pepijn Brandon and Babs Boter