Individual and collective action

The projects in this cluster focus on how people perceive their position and social inequality, and especially how they try to change their situation individually and collectively. In terms of individual action, we have a unique infrastructure in the Historical Sample of the Netherlands Database (HSNDB), which contains individual life courses of a sample of the Dutch population born between 1811 and 1922. This infrastructure has been used by many scholars in their research on, amongst others, social inequality. In future, we hope to connect these data to modern data (a short pilot has already revealed the possibilities of linking HSN data to modern data collected by Statistics Netherlands) to create a life tree of the Dutch population from the late eighteenth century to date, consisting of basic life course data and additional datasets on migration, education, income, and health. This research infrastructure will enable researchers to analyse the development of social inequality and especially the stacking of various forms of social inequality over more than six generations.

PhD student Joris Kok is one of the scholars using HSN life course data for his work on Individual life strategies employed by Dutch Jews and the relation between these strategies and outcomes in integration, social mobility, and (de)segregation. His work is part of  “Tegen de stroom in”, a KNAW Research Fund (KRF) project (with the Huygens Institute) that focuses on social mobility patterns of Jewish Dutch citizens in the period 1870–1940. Looking at individual strategies of women, PhD student Hanna te Velde uses indexed VOC court records to investigate the Socio-economic position of women in the early modern Dutch empire (briefly mentioned in the  Global Labour Relations cluster) and how they tried improving their position.

Migration as an individual strategy is studied in the 2019 (KRF) funded IISH-NIDI project “The Multicultural Drama in Perspective: 40 Years of Life Cycles of Migrants and Non-Migrants”, led by Leo Lucassen. It analyses the integration process of children of migrants through the educational system and partner choice. This has resulted in a much more nuanced and optimistic view than is commonly assumed. Finally, in the “Tolerant Migrant Cities” project, we look at how internal and international migrants in early modern Amsterdam and Leiden are treated by both legal authorities and their native neighbours, and how this relates to the length of their stay, gender, and occupation. (For both projects, see the description relating to the Social and Economic Inequality cluster.)

More generally, IISH researchers have been agenda-setting in the field of global migration history, especially by introducing the innovative Cross-Cultural Migration (CCM) approach (Jan Lucassen and Leo Lucassen),[i] which allows global comparisons through time and space, and by which includes forms of coerced mobility, as testified in four chapters (by Erik Odegard, Matthias van Rossum, Filipa Ribeiro da Silva, and Leo Lucassen) of the Cambridge History of Global Migrations. [ii]

Collective actions are central in Rosa Kösters’s PhD project (mentioned in the Global Labour Relations cluster) on the consequences of and reactions to changing labour relations by the shop-floor and trade union movement in the Netherlands, 1970–2020, as well as in the Jens Aurich’s PhD project on the workers’ resistance and how it shaped the organization of production in Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany, and their colonies in the extended nineteenth century (1750–1950). Rosa Kösters, Jens Aurich, and Matthias van Rossum also initiated a project to expand our Hub on Global Labour Conflicts into a data infrastructure that includes various forms of collective labour actions. Recently published output includes Marcel van der Linden’s two-volume Cambridge History of Socialism[iii],  Francisca de Haan’s, The Palgrave Handbook of Communist Women Activists around the World[iv] and Touraj Atabaki’s Fadaʹi Guerilla Praxis in Iran 1970–1979.[v] Marcel van der Linden’s book on the rise and fall of classic labour movements is forthcoming.

The already mentioned Vidi project “Resisting Enslavement: A Global Historical Approach to Slavery in the Dutch Atlantic and Asian Empires (1620–1815)”contributes to this by studying how slave resistance to different modes of enslavement impacted slavery, the slave trade, and processes of categorization in the early modern Dutch Atlantic and Asian Empires. The closely linked ERC project “Voices of Resistance: A Global Micro-Historical Approach to Enslavement across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean” will expand the research on enslavement and racialization using colonial court records across different European empires, most notably the Portuguese, Dutch, French, Spanish, and English/British empires.

[i] Leo Lucassen and Jan Lucassen, “Measuring and Quantifying Cross-Cultural Migrations”, in idem (eds), Globalising Migration History: The Eurasian Experience (16th–21st centuries) (Leiden and Boston, MA: Brill, 2014), pp. 3–54; Leo Lucassen, “Theorizing Cross-Cultural Migrations: The Case of Eurasia since 1500”, Social Science History vol. 41, no 3 (2017), pp. 445–475.

[ii] Marcelo J. Borges and Madeline Y. Hsu (eds), The Cambridge History of Global Migrations, vol. 2: Migrations, 1800-Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).

[iii] Marcel van der Linden, Cambridge History of Socialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022)

[iv] Fransisca de Haan, The Palgrave Handbook of Communist Women Activists around the World (Cham: Palgrave MacMillan, 2023). 

[v] Touraj Atabaki, Fadaʹi Guerilla Praxis in Iran 1970–1979 (London: I.B. Taurus, 2023).