Research

Here you find a list of our recent publications, as well as everything about our ongoing projects and links to the respective project pages. For projects that are being carried out by individual researchers, navigate through the page people. If you wish to feature on this page, contact us.

Navigate to:


Research projects

We all want to know how to end conflicts. That is why conflict resolution has been at the centre of academic debates in relation to individual, group and large-scale clashes. Yet conflicts are not only brought to an end. The current challenge is to reconsider classical paradigms for dealing with conflicts and anchor this change in historical reflection. In this project, ‘conflict managers’ in premodern commercial cities in northern Europe open a new door to understanding how conflicts were dealt with in the past. I propose a five-partite model of conflict management, consisting of prevention, provocation, maintenance of the status quo, escalation and resolution. Combining insights from economic, legal and political history, and aiming to contribute to these fields with a fundamentally novel approach, I analyse individual, group and large-scale conflicts as one system of relations, connected through the group of people who dealt with them: the faces of institutions in premodern Europe.

Conflict managers were embedded in merchant networks and fulfilled multiple and flexible roles such as mediators, judges and urban diplomats. I hypothesise that the development of sophisticated management strategies, designed by and put into practice by experienced conflict managers, was essential for safeguarding the autonomy of premodern commercial cities in northern Europe. A transnational and comparative analysis of city cases from c. 1350-1570 involving varying degrees of autonomy will test this hypothesis and reveal how cities in northern Europe responded to state formation and complex changes.

The insights from this project will contribute directly to research on contemporary conflicts by showing why we today should look beyond conflict resolution and fixed roles of conflict managers. The project is thus a relevant contribution to modern Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and economic diplomacy, disciplines which combine theory with practice to explore alternatives to law and political intervention.

Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz (PI), Christian Manger, Ester Zoomer, Alex Collin

https://premodernconflictmanagement.hcommons.org


Healthscaping Urban Europe: Bio-Power, Space and Society, 1200-1500′. (ERC Consolidator Grant 2017-2022)

Premodern Healthcaping brings together a group of medievalists across several disciplines to explore how urban residents in two of Europe’s most urbanized regions–Italy and the Low Countries–thought about and pursued population-level health. The 5-year project, funded by an ERC Consolidator grant, is based at the University of Amsterdam and builds on insights reached by scholars of premodern medicine, urbanism and material culture, which challenge the identification of public health as a uniquely modern phenomenon. Over the next years, this project will trace the development of community health, safety and wellbeing as a major aspect of the public good and as a key means of justifying and legitimating power in an urban context. It will explore the transmission of and tensions between medical theory and urban policy in this regard, and will examine the extent to which these were enforced from the political center outward, guarded and resisted by for instance major economic stakeholders, including the church, as well as neighborhood agents. Using a combination of methodologies drawing on anthropology, geography, cultural history and science and technology studies, this group seeks to define a new key for observing how historical communities aspired to live in places where health could bloom.

Guy Geltner (PI), Claire Weeda, Janna Coomans, Taylor Zaneri, Lola Digard, Peyman Amiri

https://premodernhealthscaping.hcommons.org/


Imagining a territory. Constructions and representations of late medieval Brabant (NWO Vrije Competitie 2016-2020)

This project analyses how the interaction between prince, nobles and urban elites influenced the construction, perception, and representation of a territory. The test case will be the late medieval Duchy of Brabant, which still has historical and territorial significance for many people in present-day Belgium and the Netherlands. To underscore the fluidity and multiplicity of the concept of territory, this project sets out to disentangle the divergent, though sometimes overlapping, conceptions of what exactly Brabant was (or should be) in the eyes of different political actors, in this time before the availability of reliable scale maps. To answer the main research question the project takes a twofold approach. On the one hand, we will define ducal, noble, and urban conceptions of Brabant mainly through administrative sources, particularly those of the fourteenth century that reflect a turning point in the capturing of territory. On the other hand, we will explicate how differently political actors envisaged and visualized territory in a wide range of relevant sources: architectural, heraldic, cartographic, narrative, and administrative. In this way, the project provides a completely new perspective on the concept of territory before cartography and state formation turned boundaries and territories into more fixed (but still changeable) geographical entities.

Mario Damen (PI), Kim Overlaet, Arend Elias Oostindiër

https://imaginedterritories.com/, https://brabantica.org/


Recent publications (2018-2019)

2019

Camphuijsen, F. and Page, J. (2019). Introduction: New Approaches to Late Medieval Court Records. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), p.69. http://doi.org/10.16995/olh.505.

Damen, M. J. M., & Overlaet, K. (2019). Weg van de staat. Blijde Intredes in de laatmiddeleeuwse Nederlanden op het snijvlak van sociale, culturele en politieke geschiedenis. BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review, 134(2), 3-44. https://doi.org/10.18352/bmgn-lchr.10451

Geltner, G. The Path to Pistoia: Urban Hygiene Before the Black Death. Past & Present, gtz028,, https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtz028

Geltner, G. (2019). Roads to Health: Infrastructure and Urban Wellbeing in Later Medieval Italy. University of Pennsylvania Press (PENN).

Geltner, G. (2019). In the Camp and on the March: Military Manuals as Sources for Studying Premodern Public Health. Medical History, 63(1), 44-60. https://doi.org/10.1017/mdh.2018.62

Geltner, G. (2019). Urban viarii and the Prosecution of Public Health Offenders in Later Medieval Italy. In C. Rawcliffe, & C. Weeda (Eds.), Prosecuting Public Health in Premodern Europe (pp. 97-119). Amsterdam.

2018

van den Bent, J. M. C. (2018). Vrouwen op muren: Diversiteit in (post-)revolutionaire Egyptische graffiti. Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 131(1), 119.

van den Bent, J., Woltering, R., & Van de Wijngaert, L. (2018). Representations of the West in Post-Mubarak Egypt. In M. Del Fiol, & C. C. Mitatre (Eds.), Les Occidents des mondes arabes et musulmans: Afrique du nord. XIXe-XXIe siècles (pp. 225-237). Paris: Geuthner. [details]

Burgers, J. W. J., & Damen, M. (2018). Feudal Obligation or Paid Service? The Recruitment of Princely Armies in the Late Medieval Low Countries. English Historical Review, 133(563), 777-805. https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cey150 [details]

Coomans, J. (2018). The King of Dirt: Public Health and Sanitation in Late Medieval Ghent. Urban History, 46(1), 82-105. https://doi.org/10.1017/S096392681800024X [details]

Damen, M. (2018). The Nobility in the Estates of the Late Medieval Duchy of Brabant. In M. Damen, J. Haemers, & A. J. Mann (Eds.), Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe (c. 1200-c. 1690) (pp. 161-181). (Later Medieval Europe; Vol. 15). Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004363915_010 [details]

Damen, M. (2018). The political ranking and hierarchy of the towns in the late medieval duchy of Brabant. Anuario de Estudios Medievales, 48(1), 149-177. https://doi.org/10.3989/aem.2018.48.1.05 [details]

Damen, M., Haemers, J., & Mann, A. J. (2018). An Introduction: Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe (c. 1200–c. 1690). In M. Damen, J. Haemers, & A. J. Mann (Eds.), Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe (c. 1200-c. 1690) (pp. 1-15). (Later Medieval Europe; Vol. 15). Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004363915_002 [details]

Damen, M., Haemers, J., & Mann, A. J. (2018). Conclusion: Reconsidering Political Representation in Europe, 1400–1700. In M. Damen, J. Haemers, & A. J. Mann (Eds.), Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe (c. 1200-c. 1690) (pp. 309-317). (Later Medieval Europe; Vol. 15). Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004363915_017 [details]

Damen, M., Haemers, J., & Mann, A. J. (Eds.) (2018). Political Representation: Communities, Ideas and Institutions in Europe (c. 1200-c. 1690). (Later Medieval Europe; Vol. 15). Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004363915 [details]

Geltner, G. (2018). Public Health. In S. R. Blanshei (Ed.), A Companion to Medieval and Renaissance Bologna (pp. 103-128). (Brill’s Companions to European History; Vol. 14). Leiden: Brill. [details]

Wubs-Mrozewicz, J. J. (2018). Witnessing the sea: Testimonials of seamen in the ‘Seven Salt Ships’ case (1564–1567) as sources for maritime, social, and legal history. International Journal of Maritime History, 30(4), 701. https://doi.org/10.1177/0843871418809249

See for earlier publications the profile pages of our people.