Three new NIAS fellows from Utrecht University

Handen vormen een gloeilamp © iStockphoto.com/wildpixel
© iStockphoto.com/wildpixel

The NIAS fellows year group 2021-2022 includes three researchers from Utrecht University. Dr Selin Dilli (History and Art History), Dr Britta Schilling (History and Art History) and Dr Lukas Verburgt (Freudenthal Institute) will become members of a carefully selected community of independent thinkers, where the space is created to ask new questions beyond disciplinary boundaries. They come together at NIAS to pursue their project in an interdisciplinary, collaborative slow-science environment.

Dr. Selin Dilli
Dr Selin Dilli

Selin Dilli

Dilli’s research focus is on the global economic history of institutions and their consequences for gender equality, entrepreneurship and economic development in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Being trained as a sociologist and economic historian, Dilli combines social science theories and methods with a historical perspective to research why some societies around the world have become more gender equal whereas other regions lagged behind.

Gender gap in the workplace

Despite the fact that the twentieth century witnessed significant gains in women’s position in the Dutch society, gender gaps continue to exist in different aspects of daily life and gets larger in the decision-making positions. For instance, the share of women who work part-time in the Netherlands in 2021 is highest among the OECD countries. The gender wage gap averages between 8% in government jobs and 19% in business, and only 1 in 12 companies has a female CEO, according to CBS in 2018 and EWOB in 2021. A similar trend is visible among Dutch female entrepreneurs.

Dutch Female Entrepreneurs

During the NIAS fellowship, Dilli will investigate two research questions on Dutch female entrepreneurs: (1) how did female entrepreneurship evolve in the twentieth century Netherlands and (2) which factors can explain this change over time?

Using an interdisciplinary approach, I will research the conditions under which the different forms of female entrepreneurship have emerged and declined in the Netherlands during the twentieth century. Given the focus of GAK Institute on social security and labor market, my focus will be on the relevance of labor market policies in stimulating Dutch female entrepreneurs. The research during the NIAS fellowship will be a pilot study of a larger project proposal I have been developing on the comparative female entrepreneurship in the twentieth century.

Dr. Britta Schilling
Dr. Britta Schilling

Britta Schilling

How have people dreamed, experienced, watched, listened to, aestheticized, built, challenged, destroyed, celebrated, suffered, relived, remembered, even tasted empire? To what extent do we still do so now? How has empire affected politics, economics, culture, international relations, family life? How should a community, an organisation or a nation deal with postcolonial and postimperial heritage – and how do they? These kinds of questions inspire Schilling’s research on European colonialism, comparative studies of empire and postcolonial legacies.

A critical reading of the colonial home

‘Safari style’, ‘colonial style’, ‘Swahili chic’: the contemporary home furnishings industry abounds with references to the colonial past. But what was life in the colonial home really like? The NIAS project by Schilling locates the roots of a contemporary middle-class trend for ‘global’ furnishings in the history of the colonial home. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the study compares British, French and German colonial domestic design, construction and living between c.1850 and 1960. It considers the impact of ‘the nation’ on European colonialisms in the private sphere and in the everyday lives of Europeans and non-Europeans. Attuned to what happens when ‘grand designs’ meet local knowledge, the research presents a critical reading of the colonial home that includes discussions of domestic utopias, but also considers the colonial home as a place of work, violence and resistance. 

Lukas Verburgt
Dr Lukas Verburgt

Lukas Verburgt

Lukas Verburgt’s research revolves around the history and philosophy of science in the modern era. He is currently affiliated with the Freudenthal Institute (History and Philosophy of Science) as a postdoctoral researcher. Supported by Veni funding from the Dutch Research Council, Verburgt works on his project Towards a New History and Philosophy for the Exact Sciences: The Case of the Second Scientific Revolution. The central research question within this project is how science and philosophy have become separated over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, and how this has resulted in a radical shift in the relation between these fields, understood as sources of knowledge. 

The limits of scientific knowledge in the Anthropocene

Verburgt’s NIAS-project will primarily focus on the central question to what extent, both science (as a source of ‘knowledge’) and philosophy (as a source of ‘wisdom) are needed in the search for answers to some of the biggest challenges of the 21th century. More specifically, he will explore ways in which the relation between science and philosophy can be restored and, thereby, contribute to the much-needed development of expertise on (dealing with) the limits of scientific knowledge in the Anthropocene. This is directly connected to a second line of research within the project: the question how the Anthropocene is again changing the relationship between the exact sciences and the human sciences and what this tells us about their ever-changing historical connection.