Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Research Our research Research per discipline History Secties Geschiedenis Eigentijdse Geschiedenis


Contemporary History

The Chair Group Contemporary History accommodates a wide range of research projects and historiographical approaches with the overarching framework of “(Un)Sustainable Societies”. These include:

  • Postcolonial and intersectional approaches : our section devotes particular attention to how imperial and colonial pasts reverberate in the present and have shaped societies throughout the world. Intersectionality has an important position in this research, i.e. how the intersection of gender, race, and class (among other factors) determine people’s life chances.
  • The history of discriminatory ideas, practices and structures : our research on ethnicity and race relations is related to the above-mentioned intersectional and postcolonial approaches. We, for instance, have specialists in Jewish history, civil rights and segregation in the Americas, and apartheid in South Africa. They study the emergence, functioning, and legacies of racialized social structures.
  • Post-Cold War conflicts and state building : although contemporary history traditionally had a strong focus on the Cold War period, our current research now also encompasses the years after the Cold War, especially in relation to peace keeping missions in Afghanistan, post-war reconstruction in the Balkan, and security threats.
  • Human rights (violations) and human security : a central theme of our section’s scholarship is research on human rights, the violation of these rights, and questions of human security. This research is not limited to the study of racist systems and civil rights activism, but also includes the investigation of atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
  • Post-fascism and decolonisation : in this field, we ask how the construction of a post-fascist world order after 1945 was related to decolonisation in Asia and Africa. In the light of the present rise of neo-fascist populism and anti-democratic tendencies, this research tries to understand how the history of anti-fascism relates to questions of anti-imperialism and a new world order.
  • New environmental history : more recently, environmental history has become a more prominent subject of study within our section. Examples are the impact of extractive industries in Zambia, Nigeria, and South Africa, the connections between segregationist politics and oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, and environmental racism in plantation agriculture.

Over the coming five years, the Chair Group intends to build new competencies and to combine them with our existing expertise. These include:

  • The history of migration and migration policies in Europe and beyond;
  • Populism, post-truth and (il)liberal democracy, especially after 1990;
  • The history of technological innovation and its impact on state and society;
  • Posthumanist historiography and the history of the Anthropocene;
  • The Netherlands in (Western) Europe and the world;

Latest publications

Susan Aasman, Tim van der Heijden & Tom Slootweg, ‘Historicizing the Amateur: Exploring its Multiple Meanings in the Age of Film, Video and the Digital’, in: Gabriele Balbi, Nelson Ribeiro, Valérie Schafer and Christian Schwarzenegger, eds, Historicizing Media and Communication Concepts of the Digital Age (DeGruyter, forthcoming, early 2021).

Antoon De Baets, Crimes against History (Routledge, 2019)

---, “The Historian-King: Political Leaders, Historical Consciousness, and Wise Government,” in Stefan Berger, ed., The Engaged Historian: Perspectives on the Intersections of Politics, Activism and the Historical Profession (New York and Oxford: Berghahn, 2019), 79–117 (Chapter 4).

---, “Laws Governing the Historian’s Free Expression,” in Berber Bevernage and Nico Wouters, eds., The Palgrave Handbook of State-Sponsored History After 1945 (London: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2018), 39–67.

Christian Gerlach & Clemens Six (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Anti-Communist Persecutions (Palgrave Macmillan 2020)

Barbara Henkes, Negotiating Racial Politics in the Family: Transnational Histories touched by National Socialism and Apartheid (Brill, 2020).

Barbara Henkes, ““The Voortrekkers, on their way to Pretoria, 1952”: Doing Race in Life Writing from South Africa to the Netherlands”, in Babs Boter, Marleen Rensen & Giles Scott-Smith (eds.), Unhinging the National Framework. Perspectives on Transnational Life Writing (Sidestone Press, 2020)

Jelte Olhof & Maarten Zwiers (eds.), Profiles in Power: Personality, Persona, and the U.S. President (Brill, 2020)

Iva Pesa, “From Life Histories to Social History: Narrating Social Change Through Multiple Biographies”, in Klaas van Walraven, The Individual in Africa History: The Importance of Biography in African Historical Studies (Leiden: Brill, 2020), 91-113.

Iva Pesa, “Mining, Waste and Environmental Thought on the Central African Copperbelt, 1950-2000”, Environment and History (2020),

Iva Pesa, “Crops and Copper: Agriculture and Urbanism on the Central African Copperbelt, 1950-2000”, Journal of Southern African Studies 46:3 (2020), 527-545.

Stefan van der Poel, Herman Verbeek (1936-2013): priester, politicus, publicist (Verloren, 2020)

Amanda Power, Iva Pesa and Eiko Honda, “Undoing the Discipline: History in the Time of Climate Crisis and COVID-19”, Journal for the History of Environment and Society 5 (2020),  .

Clemens Six, The Transnationality of the Secular: Travelling ideas and shared practices of secularism in decolonizing South and Southeast Asia (Brill, 2020)

Clemens Six, Secularism, Decolonisation and the Cold War in South and Southeast Asia (Routledge, 2018)

Jasmijn Van Gorp, Tom Slootweg & Iris Vliet, ‘Training Self-Reflection and Overcoming Resistance Towards Digital Tools In The Humanities’, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, (under review for 2021).

Maarten Zwiers, Senator James Eastland: Mississippi’s Jim Crow Democrat (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)

Maarten Zwiers , “Jim Crow Democracy: The U.S. South and Racialized Policy-Making in the Aftermath of World War II,” International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity 7 (2019), 547-565,

Laatst gewijzigd:23 november 2021 17:50