The Histories of (Post-)Colonial Universities in the Netherlands

19 januari 2024

Call for papers

August 29-30, 2024 at Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands

Call for papers before 19 January 2024

The creation of knowledge about subjugated lands and populations formed a crucial part of the workings of imperial states across Europe. Universities played important roles in creating, absorbing and disseminating that knowledge. The development of scientific racism or the creation of botanical gardens are just two of many examples of colonial science that supported imperial rule as new imperialism demanded knowledge of the subjugated peoples and technologies for the exploitation of human and non-human resources. Moreover, knowledge was itself part of systems of colonial hierarchies wherein European ‘universal’ knowledge was mostly judged to be inherently superior to local and indigenous knowledge. At the same time, however, universities played a role fostering anti-colonial thought. Universities also participated in preserving indigenous knowledge through manuscript collection, law and language documentation, as well as through the production of field notes, although mediated through the universalizing tendencies of European knowledge ideals. Yet, the historiographies of universities, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, have so far remained focused on their institutional histories within the context of the nation state.

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