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Cross-cultural Connections, 1492-1776: Trade, Marriage and Business Networks


Admission requirements



When in 1492 Columbus reached America, the whole world became a stage for contacts between different peoples, diverse cultures and competing powers. Most historians have argued that the opening of the world to global contacts did little to force individuals into cross-cultural relationships of economic or social nature.
This course aims at broadly questioning and discussing the traditional approaches to cross-cultural contacts. The final goal of the course is to bring new perspectives onto cross-cultural studies during the Early Modern period and present students with an alternative view of the post-1492 world to the one commonly accepted. Emphasis will be given to the relationships between people from different linguistic, cultural, religious and imperial backgrounds with the objective of showing how ‘borderless’ the Early Modern word was, even when state and church institutions attempted to regulate individual behaviour.
During the course of the semester, students will have the opportunity to read established authors and critical literature, work with primary sources relating to various parts of the world (Europe, the Atlantic, Asia) in different European and non-European languages, and write a research essay where theoretical approaches will be used as basis for the development of case-studies according to the individual interest and personal goals of each student.

Course objectives

  • concepts, notions and perceptions of cross-cultural relations

  • historiographical knowledge of the state of the art

  • critical insights into the literature

  • use varied primary sources to build historical case-studies and re-define theoretical approaches

  • understand that the post-1492 world embodied the basic notions of globalization, being at a social, economic, political or cultural level


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Assessment method

Term paper of about 7200 words.



Reading list

  • Francesca Trivellato, The familiarity of strangers. The Sepharic diaspora, Livorno, and cross-cultural trade in the Early Modern period, New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 2009.

  • The remaining literature will be provided during the semester.


via uSis.

Contact information

Email: Mw Dr. J.V. Roitman


If only native speakers of Dutch participate, the course can be taught in Dutch.