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Pepijn Brandon Professor of Global Economic and Social History

21 June 2022
As of 1 June 2022, Pepijn Brandon has been appointed professor of Global Economic and Social History at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU Amsterdam). The chair is part of the department of Art & Culture, History and Antiquity (Faculty of Humanities). Brandon's research focuses on the relationship between global capitalist development and large-scale violence, particularly war and slavery.

Current themes in long-term perspective 
The chair fits in seamlessly with the existing education at VU Amsterdam, with its emphasis on themes such as globalisation, global inequality, colonialism, imperialism and their impact today. Brandon gained recognition in the Netherlands for his research into the history of slavery. In 2019 he published an article together with Ulbe Bosma, who is also affiliated with VU Amsterdam as professor by special appointment at the IISH, about the significance of the slave trade and slavery for the Dutch economy in the 18th century. In 2020, Brandon led the research into the role of Amsterdam and its administrators in the system of slave trade and slavery in Asia, Africa and North and South America. He recently led research into the history of slavery of historical predecessors of ABN AMRO.

Brandon: "Historically, capitalist development was the basis for enormous wealth and social dynamism, but also inextricably linked to processes of violent expropriation, colonization, social exclusion, exploitation and plundering of our natural environment. Major global problems today, from climate change to systemic racism, are inseparable from this past."

Dean Susan LegĂȘne: "Brandon actively and in a distinct way participates in the international historical debate about the rise of capitalism and its global impact. European colonialism and imperialism have left no corner of the earth untouched over the centuries, and have  largely shaped our contemporary society.  By appointing Brandon, we choose to explicitly  approach  the tradition of economic and social history at VU Amsterdam from a global perspective and to look at Dutch history from that broader perspective. It is an approach that is also of great importance for the student population of VU Amsterdam with its great diversity of backgrounds."

Pepijn Brandon (1980) obtained his master's degree in Economic and Social History at the University of Amsterdam (cum laude) in 2007 and obtained his PhD in 2013 (also cum laude) at the same university. His dissertation, published as War, Capital, and the Dutch State (1588-1795) won the D.J. Sweeping Prize of the Royal Holland Society of the Arts and Sciences.   
After his PhD, he was a (visiting) fellow at the Huntington Library, the Global History Center (University of Pittsburgh), the Weatherhead Initiative of Global History (Harvard) and the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (Brown University). He received several large research grants from NWO: the Rubicon (2013), Veni (2016) and Vidi (2021). His latest project investigates episodes of large-scale land grabbing in the context of Dutch expansion from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.  In addition to the VU, where he has held various appointments since 2014, Brandon has taught at the University of Amsterdam (2008-2014) and Harvard University (2020, as a visiting professor).   
Since 2016, Brandon has been a senior researcher at the International Institute of Social History (IISH), and will continue his position there for one day a week. He is also a member of the editorial board of the International Review of Social History, the International Journal of Maritime History and, as of this summer, the BMGN/Low Countries Historical Review.   
Watch the video about the Bachelor History and International Studies here and watch the interview with Brandon about his part in the research into ABN AMRO in this NOS article