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Robben Island: Crossroads of cultures


Compulsory attendance


Prerequisites and restrictions

Bachelor’s degree in Archaeology obtained.


The commercial expansion of the Dutch since the 16th century and the colonial period that followed from the 19th century has left traces in many corners of the world. Historical-archaeological research of the
various types of material culture in regions where the Dutch settled, is of significant importance for our knowledge and understanding of social organisations of communities where different cultures come together.
In this seminar the conception of colonial crossroads as places of contact, development and suppression are explored. After an introduction of the subject the students will focus on a case study. In this case study different approaches and perspectives will be investigated which are connected to the logistical, military, commercial, and maritime backgrounds of the global network developed and maintained from Europe. The various perspectives play a crucial role in the transformation of archaeological sites into cultural heritage. In the workgroup the role will be discussed of this so-called ‘common heritage’ in collaboration agreements set up from the Netherlands.

Learning outcomes

  • Insight in the development of European expansion;

  • Knowledge of the most important material aspects of this history of expansion;

  • Insight in (current) debates and questions within historical archaeology of Dutch expansion;

  • Situating of the research focused on the Netherlands within the international context of, amongst others, ‘contact archaeology’, maritime archaeology, slavery and research into diasporas, etc.;

  • Insight in aspects that play a role in the creation of heritage in general and ‘common heritage’ in particular;

  • Knowledge of multi disciplinary methods of research.

Mode of delivery



  • Assignments;

  • Presentation;

  • Research proposal.

Reading list

Will be presented in class.