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Alexander Geelen (1991) is a PhD researcher at the International Institute of Social History and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Here he is writing his PhD dissertation under the supervision of Ulbe Bosma and Matthias van Rossum. He is part of the NWO research project ‘Resilient diversity: The governance of racial and religious plurality in the Dutch empire, 1600-1800’, which asks the questions: How did Dutch colonial institutions govern diversity in North America, the Caribbean, Western Africa and Asia and how can we explain these institutions’ resilience and their lasting impact on modern systems of governance of diversity?
Alexander Geelen is specialized in the regulation of mobility in the Dutch colonial overseas empire of the eighteenth century. In his sub-project, called ‘Bordering up: regulating mobility through passes, walls and guards’, he studies the praxis and theory behind mobility regulation and researches how one’s social background determined his or her mobility. By using legislation found in the newly digitalized archives of the WIC and VOC and data sets including thousands of court cases from both these archives, Alexander Geelen will study how the trading companies envisioned mobility regulation and how legislation intended to carry out these regulations functioned on the ground. His research spans a large part of the Dutch overseas colonial holdings of the eighteenth century and includes (among others) Batavia, Cochin, Elmina and Paramaribo as case studies.