Research Projects

The IISH conducts research in Project Clusters.

  • Global Labour Relations
  • Commodities, Environment and Labour
  • Social and Economic Inequality
  • Collective Action and Individual Strategies

This is an overview of the Research Projects within the four clusters.

IISH Research | Lippische Ziegler | Lippe Brickmakers | Photo in IISH-collection

Research Projects

Historical prices and wages | Florijn uit 1616 (Kampen)

Historical Prices and Wages (HPW)

Data on prices and wages are among the most important sources of information in social- and economic-historical research, especially for the pre-statistical period. HPW collects this data.

drawing of victim of punishment

Tolerant migrant cities? The case of Holland 1600-1900

This NWO funded project will answer this question how credible the image of the tolerant Dutch cities really is and how this changed over time by examining migrants through the eyes of the courts in the highly urbanized coastal provinces of the Netherlands (Holland) between 1600 and 1900. It aims to reveal patterns of continuity and change in: 1. Treatment of migrants by criminal courts, and 2. Violence and conflicts between migrants and native born.

Theevisite in een Europees huis in Batavia, Jan Brandes, 1779 - 1785

Colonial Girl Power: women and their strategies for upward social mobility in Dutch settlements in Asia and the Atlantic world

In this PhD project, Hanna te Velde studies the socio-economic position of women in the early modern Dutch empire. By using court cases from the newly digitized archives of the VOC and WIC, she will study the many, various ways in which women tried to improve their position – unfree as well as free women, with European and non-European backgrounds. The project focusses on four case studies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: Batavia, Cochin, Paramaribo and Willemstad.

:A page from one of the ledgers of the Amsterdam Assurantie Compagnie of 1771, in which Dutch merchant Nicolaas Jan van Baggen takes out insurance on the lives of enslaved people.

Slavery Insured

The project “Slavery Insured: A study into the Amsterdam Assurantie Compagnie 1771 and its involvement in slavery, 1771-1873” focuses on the history of one Amsterdam insurance company and its involvement in slavery. So far, the role of insurance companies in both the slave trade and the trade in slave-produced commodities has remained under-researched.

The Dam in Amsterdam

Migrants and the Court of Amsterdam, 1600-1800

This project will look anew at this assumption of tolerant co-existence between migrants and locals, by studying the institutional treatment of migrants as well as their interpersonal interactions with their neighbours, as documented in the archives of the urban judicial system. By looking at how heavily place of origin affected the treatment of migrants in the Dutch Republic, we can add a more nuanced layer of analysis to the characterization of the early modern Dutch Republic as ‘tolerant’, beyond an analysis of confessional co-existence, or of long-term social mobility trends

GLOBALISE: Digital research infrastructure for VOC archives

Consisting of approximately twenty-five million pages, the UNESCO Memory of the World-listed archives of the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) offer a unique view on interactions between European and non-European actors in Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Currently, however, doing research on this vast collection of handwritten documents is extremely challenging. The GLOBALISE project creates an online research infrastructure that unlocks the key series of VOC documents and reports for advanced new research methods. The infrastructure will engage the wider public with this many-sided and increasingly hotly-debated period of Dutch overseas history.

Staat en slavernij cover

Staat en Slavernij

State and Slavery details how the Dutch state and its predecessors were involved in colonial slavery. It describes how different stakeholders, such as enslaved people, administrators, and entrepreneurs in the Dutch Republic and in colonized societies responded to slavery. The project has the dual aim to explore current research into the Dutch colonial slavery past and the latter’s impact on contemporary societies through the publication of State and Slavery and, additionally, to draft an agenda for future research into Dutch slavery practices.

Resisting Enslavement: A Global Historical Approach to Slavery in the Dutch Atlantic and Asian Empire (1620-1815)

This project questions how resistance by enslaved impacted slavery and modes of enslavement in societies connected to the global Dutch colonial empire. By studying slave resistance from a global micro-historical perspective, the Resisting Enslavement project questions how different modes of enslavement impacted i) patterns of slave trade, ii) the labelling and treatment of enslaved, iii) and the social and resistance strategies of enslaved in the early modern Dutch Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Indonesian archipelago worlds.

Two views of Dutch East India Trading Posts

Land Grabbing Empire: State Strategy and Large Scale Land Transfers in Dutch Expansion (16th-18th century)

Land grabbing, defined as the forced transfer of land from peasant producers to commercial investors, deeply affects the organization of global agriculture. Although the roots of this phenomenon go back centuries, its dynamics are still poorly understood. The reason is that land grabbing is usually analysed as a form of violent, rent-seeking behaviour, counterpoised to the institutional underpinnings of advanced market economies. This project radically reverses this perspective by investigating how the highly market-oriented early modern Dutch state and colonial companies employed land grabbing to advance commercial agriculture. By focussing on the Dutch state, a driving force in early modern commercial globalization, this project sheds light on the importance of land grabbing for the history of capitalism and offers insights into the mechanisms connecting the violent dispossession of peasant populations and the development of commercial agriculture.