Research School for Economic and Social History

Research Network ‘Routes and Roots in Colonial and Global History’

The research network ‘Routes and Roots in Colonial and Global History’ convenes Dutch and Flemish scholars, whose aim it is to combine a global approach with a sensitivity for local and emic perspectives

Research directors

Dr Elisabeth Heijmans (University of Antwerp)
Dr Fenneke Sijsling (Leiden University)
Professor Ulbe Bosma (IISH / Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Description

The research network ‘Routes and Roots in Colonial and Global History’ convenes Dutch and Flemish scholars, whose aim it is to combine a global approach with a sensitivity for local and emic perspectives. Projects within this network study globalizing societies starting from a micro level and highlight individual agency. Their focus is on the various ways these local societies and individual persons participated in inter-regional networks, how their encounters with ‘others’ impacted their (social, cultural, religious) lives on a local level, and how in turn these encounters also had an impact on these supra-local levels.

Focus points

  • Highlighting the micro level and individual agency, involving the use of primary sources born in different cultural and linguistic zones
  • Using methodologies that are not necessarily always readily available in a historian’s toolbox, such as oral history and fieldwork
  • Broad transnational processes such as empire-building, (de)colonisation, modernisation and globalisation, with expertise on specific societies, groups and individuals
  • Critically engagement with Eurocentric historical markers such as the Early-Modern and the Modern and explores the options for periodisation that are truly global in character

Projects

There is a wide range of research projects: from cosmopolitanism among the elites at the Indo-Islamic courts, to modern life-styles of contemporary Africans to non-western urbanisation. The network also includes studies on how new hardware, from ships, to roads, to cars, to cell phones, transformed spaces from relatively sequestered into globalised.

Research in this network further concerns interactions between colonial/postcolonial policies and grassroots’ negotiation of and impact on these colonial/postcolonial policies. Or, focus on how missionary messages were transformed in local cultures and often resulted in indigenous re-translations of external concepts. As a rule of thumb these research projects include critical reflections on the various ways in which people contest, transform and appropriate their colonial heritage.

Other activities

The network is planning to further its agenda by organising annual seminars with foreign guests and guest speakers from other Posthumus research networks devoted each year to a specific theme. We could think of themes like ‘qualitative methodologies’ (fieldwork, oral history etc.), ‘Legal Pluralism’, ‘state formation’, etc.