The Politics of the English Grain Trade, 1314-1815

This research project is a collaboration between the University of Sheffield and Utrecht University. The project analyses the development of the political economy of the English grain and bread trades over the long run as a process of commodification, determined by economic but also by political, social, cultural, ethical and legal factors. This process is positioned against a background of swings in the balance of population and food supply and of the development of international markets in grain.

The researchers in Sheffield focus on conflicts related to the use of mills and changing cultural meanings attached to grain, bread and millers. The researchers in Utrecht examine the transnational aspects of the English grain trade by studying the impact of the English grain trade on the regions that were drawn into it and drawing comparisons with the bread and grain politics in these regions. This part of the project focuses on two important port towns on the North Sea and Baltic coasts, Gdańsk and Hamburg, and includes an analysis, based on local administrative and jurisdictional sources, of the regulation of the grain trade, public grain stocks, milling and baking, the sale of bread and bread prices, and conflicts and discussions on this issues. It also includes a survey of the German-language pamphlets and other contemporary literature expressing attitudes towards the grain trade.

  • Project Leaders: Prof. Michael Braddick (University of Sheffield) and Dr Jessica Dijkman (UU)
  • Participants: To be determined
  • Duration: 2022 - 2027
  • Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council
NWO Spinoza Prize

The Spinoza Prize is the highest scientific distinction in the Netherlands. Bas van Bavel was awarded the prize in 2019. The research he conducts poses the question: why are some societies capable of adapting their organisational structure to new challenges, and of undergoing a successful transition of economy and society, while others lack this capability or experience painful shocks or unsustainable shifts? This success can be measured economically, in GDP per capita or wealth, but also in ways that include social aspects. Consider examples like equity and welfare, resilience to hazards and disasters, and ecological aspects such as the sustainable use of resources.

Race to the bottom? Family labour, household livelihood and consumption in the relocation of global cotton manufacturing

The project Race to the Bottom? explores the macro-economic global relocation of textile production from a micro-level perspective: households’ labour and consumption decisions. It will investigate to what extent, and how, gendered allocation of work on the household level impacted macro-economic shifts in labour division. It will scrutinize households’ multiple livelihood strategies, and relate this to the resilience or disappearance of local textile industries. Finally, it will analyze how local consumption patterns have influenced the continuation and disappearance of particular types of textile manufacturing over time and space. This lends workers and households the agency that most studies have so far overlooked, thus offering new explanations for regional as well as global divisions of labour. For further information, please visit our website TextileLab.

Chivalry and the role of nobility in the Netherlands

With a grant from the Utrecht University Fund, Renger de Bruin is writing a book about Utrecht chivalry from the early Middle Ages to the present, focusing on the changing political influence and economic position of the Utrecht nobility. Simultaneously, De Bruin is working on a long-term prosopographic study  of the members of the Teutonic Order Bailiwick of Utrecht (1640-1950), an exclusive noble institution. This study will provide new insights for the debate on the changing social position of the nobility in the Netherlands during and after the Dutch Republic.

MIDI: Modelling institutional dynamics in historical commons

The MIDI project adopts an interdisciplinary perspective to contribute empirically-grounded and systematic knowledge of the mechanisms driving the process of institutional change. The project is based on the results of the Common Rules project.

  • Project Leader: Prof. Giangiacomo Bravo, Linnaeus University (Sweden)
  • Participants: René van Weeren (UU), Prof. Tine De Moor (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • In cooperation with: Dr Amineh Ghorbani, M. Ale Ebrahim Dehkordi (both Delft University of Technology)
  • Duration: 2017-2019
  • Funding: Riksbanken Jubileumsfond (Sweden)
Better Well-Being Index

The Better Well-Being Index (BWI) is an initiative by strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies at Utrecht University and offers an alternative measure of wellbeing. BWI measures and weighs eleven dimensions that reflect citizens’ wellbeing in the Netherlands: health, education, environment, housing, safety, income, jobs, work-life balance, community, civic engagement, and subjective wellbeing.

SCOOP - Sustainable Cooperation: Roadmaps to a Resilient Society

SCOOP is a comprehensive interdisciplinary research programme in which sociologists, psychologists, historians and philosophers join forces in the search for new solutions to sustainable cooperation in the fields of health care, work environment and integration. 

Golden Agents: Creative Industries and the Making of the Dutch Golden Age

The Dutch Golden Age’s paintings, books, ceramics etc. still fascinate millions of people, but how did these creative outbursts emerge? In the ‘Golden Agents’ Research Infrastructure, so-called computer agents ingeniously connect existing and new databases to facilitate interdisciplinary research that unravels the inner dynamics of this creative miracle.

  • Participants: Prof. Oscar Gelderblom, Prof. Wijnand Mijnhardt, Prof. Maarten Prak, Prof. Els Stronks, Prof. Mehdi Dastani (Information and Computing Sciences) in collaboration with researchers from Huygens ING, University of Amsterdam, Free University Amsterdam, City Archives Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum and RKD
  • Duration: 2016-2021
  • Funding: NWO Investment Grant Large
Swets and Zeitlinger; the demise of a family business

The Manutius Foundation, which represents the former owners of the company Swets and Zeitlinger, commissioned a historical study of this family business dating from the beginning of the twentieth century. Swets en Zeitlinger was internationally active in offering journal subscriptions to scientific institutions. After being taken over by a private equity firm, the company went bankrupt in 2013. Dr. Bram Bouwens describes the rise and fall of this family business.