Postdoc Position

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 19 Apr 2021

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The Faculty of Humanities, Institute for History, has a

Postdoc Position
“Dutch Entrepreneurial Exploitation of Cash Crops and Natural Resources (Including Tax Farming) in the Colonies of Others”

Key responsibilities
As per September 1, 2021, the Leiden University Institute for History will be appointing a postdoc researcher within the NWO-funded VICI project  Exploiting the Empire of Others: Dutch Investment in Foreign Colonial Resources, 1570-1800, supervised by Professor Cátia Antunes. The responsibilities are:

  • Conducting research on the history of scientific codes of conduct;
  • Writing 4 single authored and 2 co-authored articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals (alternatively one single authored monograph submitted to a prominent academic publisher);
  • Contribute to one co-edited volume (for submission to a prominent academic publisher);
  • Contribute to the development of the project’s datasets (jointly with the rest of the team);
  • Co-organizing workshops and organizing panels for major international conferences;
  • Contributing actively to team work (e.g., serving as a peer reviewer for other team members, contributing to the project deliverables, liaise with societal partners).

Selection criteria 

  • PhD degree in History, preferably in Economic and Social History, Colonial/Imperialism History or Global History (focus on Early Modern period);
  • Relevant publications (journal articles, book chapters, single authored monography);
  • Broad paleographic skills of Early Modern documents in different languages
  • Experience of complex, splintered public and private archives
  • Language skills: proficiency in English, knowledge of Dutch (reading), German (reading), French (reading), Spanish (basic), Portuguese (basic), Italian (basic) and Latin
  • Excellent writing skills, preferably able to write proficiently in English and at least one other Western European language;
  • Proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Proven ability to work in in a large, dynamic and ambitious international team, embedded in a highly competitive environment.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics, international studies and area studies, covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 930, the faculty provides 27 masters and 25 bachelors programmes for over 6,000 students based at locations in Leidens historic city centre and in modern buildings in The Hague. For more information, see the website of Humanities .

The project Exploiting the Empire of Others can be summarized as follows. Early Modern European empires are portrayed and perceived as nationally geared enterprises, as entangled spaces at the peripheries and as zones of contact. In the Netherlands, these perceptions have filtered into the public debate that seeks to define material and immaterial responsibilities for the colonial past. What the historiographical perceptions, academic portrayals and public debate seem, however, to ignore is the role played by foreigners (being non-subjects of a specific king or republic) I exploiting the empires of other countries. This project will establish how and why Dutch entrepreneurs (being those taking risks in matters of trade or production, introducing innovations, making decisions based on information that others did not possess and searching for opportunities where most perceived risk) participated in exploiting the English, French and Iberian Empires, as Dutch firms are particularly prominent in the European colonial landscape. Since Dutch entrepreneurs engaged in exploiting the resources of other countries, what is the future of the public debate in the Netherlands, and Europe at large, regarding a shared responsibility for the colonial past?

The answer(s) to these questions can be found in the multiple public and private archives that house extensive collections of the firms that operated from the Dutch Republic into the four largest empires in Western Europe. By combining original and recently uncovered archival sources pertaining to the relevant men (and some women), businesses and activities and their relationships with fellow traders, investors and political powers in situ, this project carries the seed to change commonly held perceptions regarding Dutch colonial participation and how these perceptions are often filtered into the public debate. This socio-economic entanglement of empires may have resulted in a shared European culture of exploitation that is impossible to disentangle within public debates that remain nationally bound. Within this overarching project, a 0.75 FTE, 36-months postdoc position is available.

Dutch Entrepreneurial Exploitation of Cash Crops and Natural Resources (Including Tax Farming) in the Colonies of Others 
In this subproject, the successful applicant will be asked to conceptualize the investment of Dutch firms in the empire of others having as starting point three specific themes: cash crops (and associated allocation of labour), natural resources and tax farming. The analysis will be approached from the point of view of the firm and the mechanisms of management of complex portfolios that included, at times simultaneously, the exploitation of multiple sources of income and revenue.

In terms of exploitation of revenue, and often through mechanisms of public debt, many Dutch firms became entangled in the political and expansionist projects of different monarchies. In this context, the postdoc will be invited to reflect upon the consequences of this entanglement for the development of specific and common features of the political economy of European empires and the pre-imperialist association between private capital and public administration of empire.

Terms and conditions
The postdoc position is part-time (0.75 FTE). The successful applicant will receive a 1 year contract, renewable for another 2 years, depending on positive evaluation of team work and outputs.

The salary is in accordance with the collective salary agreement of the Association of Dutch Universities (CAO) and depending on qualifications and experience, the gross monthly salary is € 2,790.- (scale 10) to € 5,127.- (scale 11) for a full working week.

The salary will be in accordance with qualifications and work experience, in scale 10 or 11 (Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities). An appointment with Leiden University includes a pension build-up and facilitates other benefits such as an annual holiday premium of 8% and an end-of-year premium of 8.3%.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

In case of urgent questions, please contact Professor Cátia Antunes, email .

Applications should be submitted in English and include a: 

  • Cover letter;
  • Curriculum vitae with a list of publications;
  • Statement of purpose (please elaborate on how you will approach the project, define/advance possible case studies, define your sphere of action within the team);
  • Copy of one significant academic output (PhD dissertation, article, monography);
  • Proof of English language proficiency for non-native English speakers or those without an undergraduate degree obtained in The Netherlands or an English-speaking country (IELTS 7.0 or lower will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, e.g. in the case of other compensatory factors such as unique experience and expertise);
  • List of (maximum) two referees to your application (with full postal addresses, telephone numbers, and emails). Referees will be contacted directly by the search committee.

Applications should be submitted no later than 19 April 2021 via the bluebutton in our application system . Please quote the vacancy number in your application. All requested documents should be sent in PDF format.

An interview with the search committee is part of the procedure.

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