Dutch Atlantic Connections

The circulation of people, goods and ideas in the Atlantic world, 1680-1795

(This project ran from April 2008 to March 2013)

The emergence of an integrated Atlantic world

The early modern era witnessed the emergence of an integrated Atlantic world connecting Europe, Africa, and the Americas, including the West Indies. These parts of the western hemisphere were connected by the circulation of people, goods and ideas. This integrated Atlantic world disappeared in a few decades after the Revolutionary era due to several causes, particularly the end of the slave trade and the decolonization of the Americas.

In recent years, it has increasingly become clear that Dutch activities in this Atlantic world were of far greater significance than historians hitherto assumed. This proposal focuses on the Dutch dimension of the integrated Atlantic World between 1680 and 1795. The pivotal and indeed exceptional role of the Dutch in the Atlantic world was not one of empire-builders, but one of middlemen and brokers, who greased the Atlantic economic machine with unrivalled credit facilities and a myriad of commodities and distribution channels.

Research: Dutch networks in the Atlantic world

This project aims to analyze how the Dutch networks functioned in this Atlantic world system and to explain to what extent and why these networks changed during this period. The analysis relates to the circulation of people and goods as well as to that of ideas. The project will not only generate more insight into the relevance of the Atlantic dimension to Dutch history, but will also contribute to the rapidly expanding international field of ‘Atlantic history’ at large.

The research will focus on four (clusters of) pivotal centres at both sides of the Atlantic (Amsterdam/Rotterdam; Paramaribo; Curaçao/St. Eustatius; Elmina). Each of these centres is considered to be a major junction in the flow of people, goods and ideas connecting the three continents of the Dutch Atlantic and its multinational environment.

Research output

The project runs from 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2013. It will result in a synthesizing monograph and an edited volume, two monographs, a number of articles in international and national journals, two doctoral dissertations (one of which primarily financed from other sources), a number of papers at international conferences, and digital databases. These publications will be mostly in English in order to contribute to the burgeoning field of Atlantic studies.

Selected publications

Enthoven, Victor, 'Dutch Maritime Strategy', in: D. Stoker, J.J. Hagan & M.T. McMaster (eds.), Strategy in the War for American Independence: A Global Approach, (London: Routledge, 2009), pp. 176-201.

Heijer, Henk den, 'New insights into Dutch shipping and trade in the Atlantic in early modern history', in M. de Groot and M. Wittenberg (eds.), Driven by data. Exploring the research horizon, (Amsterdam: Pallas Publications, 2010), pp. 25-27.

Heijer, Henk den, 'Ten geleide' in: Erik van der Doe e.a. (eds.), Sailing Letters Journaal II. De smeekbede van een oude slavin en andere verhalen uit de West, (Zutphen: Walburg, 2009), pp. 7-11.

Klooster, Wim and Oostindie, Gert (eds.), Curaçao in the Age of Revolutions, 1795-1800, (Leiden: KITLV Press, 2011).