IISH and the World

The IISH, like many other scientific institutes, has been closed down by current government measures as a result of the coronavirus. This closure in no way means that its staff like researchers and collection curators – stand idly by. This current crisis encourages reflection on themes in which the IISH as an institute is closely engaged, such as social inequality and labour relations both locally and globally, the role of civil society, but also changes in world views before and after the corona crisis.

IISH & The World

IISH and the World

Qatar - Pete Pattisson

'Modern slavery': why is unfree labour so persitent? by Jan Lucassen

Ever since 2020, human rights organisations have been raising alarm about the abominable labour conditions and disenfranchisement of migrant workers involved in the construction of stadiums and other infrastructural works in Qatar in connection with the World Cup starting on 20 November of this year. This extreme form of restricting the freedom of workers (often referred to as 'modern slavery') is a persistent phenomenon. But to understand why – despite the formal abolition of slavery globally – all sorts and degrees of unfree labour remain so persistent, we need to go further back in time, because only through a historical perspective can we understand why many people and parties – and not just greedy employers – have strong interests in the perpetuation of unfree labour.


The IISH and the Pandemic by Aad Blok

The Covid pandemic and its consequences for public and private life have been talked and written about endlessly in the past year, from a great many different perspectives and views.

PKI in Padangpandjang

The PKI archives and the need for more inclusive descriptions by Rika Theo

But it seems you do not realize, Meneer Pangemanann, that your report is not for the general public. Only a very few people in the Indies and in the world have read and studied it … You will never know, and indeed do not need to know, who else has read it.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer, House of Glass (New York, 1992), p. 24.

Poortugaal, 1959

Black Lives Matter in global history by Leo Lucassen

The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States resonate strongly throughout the world. Not only in Europe, but also in Seoul, Monrovia, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, and even in war-torn Idlib in Syria, where a mural honouring George Floyd has been painted. But the protests have also  generated opposition. Critics of the protests often point at other forms of racism, for example in Asia and Africa, asking ‘what about racism in other parts of the world?’ Although in itself a legitimate question, it is used as a rhetorical strategy to trivialize widespread institutional racism against people of colour, especially pertaining to descendants of enslaved Africans in the Atlantic world.

1918 flu pandemic

Spanish flu: How the world changed in the aftermath of the 1918-1919 pandemic by Touraj Atabaki

“One fateful night in the summer of 1918, with the Great War about to end, in the heart of the darkness three menacing horsemen each in possession of a whip and sword silently breached the walls and entered the town. One was called Famine, another Spanish Influenza and the other Cholera. The poor, the old and the young fell like autumn leaves ravaged by the assaults of these ruthless horsemen.”

Illustratie: Groep arbeiders op collectief stukloon in de baksteenindustrie, Noord-Duitsland, 1903. [Bron: Landesarchiv NRW Abt. OWL, Detmold (Germany), D 75 Nr. 2670.]

'Pandemic puts labour relations in the limelight', by Gijs Kessler

The COVID-19 crisis mercilessly exposes the fault line between the employed and the self-employed in today’s Dutch society. The closure of bars, restaurants, and clubs, the restrictions on the work of hair and beauty professionals, and the cancellation of mass events have a direct impact on the livelihood of entrepreneurs and the self-employed, while, for the time being,  most salaried workers continue to receive their wages regardless of whether they can continue carrying out their tasks or not.