Biography and research interests
Samuël Kruizinga (1980) is senior lecturer in contemporary and military history at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). He studied at Leiden, Paris and Oxford and obtained his PhD at the University of Amsterdam in 2011. His research interests are the global impact of nineteenth- and twentieth-century conflicts, currently focusing in particular on the First World War (1914-1918) and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), and the role of small states in the international system since 1815.
His research aim is to push the theoretical and methodological boundaries of historical war studies, which has so far overwhelmingly focused on national armies fighting in a single battlespace, by imaging battlespaces that do not neatly conform to national lines or are fought in single, well-defined theatres.
In 2016, Kruizinga was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Oxford Changing Character of War Programme based at Pembroke College.
Current research projects
Currently I am engaged in four major research projects:
- Foreign Fighters in History. From 2012 to 2016, over 40,000 men and women, including 4,000 European Union nationals and at least 250 Dutchmen, joined the so-called "Islamic State" in their fight against Syrian, Iraqi and Western forces. Why did these "foreign fighters" choose to leave their home state to fight for militant fundamentalists? How did their activities affect the conflict they were participating in? And what will happen to them now that IS is nearly defeated? A string of terror attacks by returning foreign fighters, the plight of their children in refugee camps, the emergence of new transnational fighter groups, as well as foreign fighters' continued influence on societal debates related to immigration, refugee policy, and the position of Islam in Europe underscore the relevance of these questions. But answers are hard to come by. Data collection is hampered, suggest both the United Nations and the European Union, by the lack of a common and agreed definition of foreign fighters, official secrets acts designed to protect ongoing security operations, and a general unwillingness to share sensitive information. This project challenges the accepted narrative that IS’ foreign fighters are a uniquely 21st century phenomenon, made possible only by the internet and the ideological motivation of "jihadism". It proposes, by contrast, that ever since fighting for another state or ruler became outlawed in the mid-1850s, Europeans have defied these sanctions to fight wars in support of ideologically framed causes. By comparing foreign fighters in very different types of wars throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, Foreign Fighters in History (FFIGHT) provides, for the first time, an in-depth analysis of the ways the foreign fighting phenomenon has manifested itself and has evolved, based on rich and accessible historical data. Its aim is to provide a comparative historical analysis to explain variations in foreign fighter mobilisations, conflict roles, and return trajectories. In doing so, it challenges the false dichotomy between ‘modern’ IS and other transnational fighters and historicizes our understanding of a phenomenon of critical importance to contemporary society.
- Size Matters! Small States in International History, 1815-present day. One of the most enduring divides in international relations is that between ‘small states’ and ‘great powers’. It was formally established at the 1814 Treaty of Chaumont, which did away with the notion that states were equal and divided them into two categories: great powers, the main drivers of the international system, and small states, too insignificant to influence the shape of the international environment. Since then, scholars have debated what sets apart small states from great powers: are they really different, and, if so, how? Increasingly, scholarship has focused not only on the problems and costs associated with being ‘small’ – such as having a less diversified economy or limited military capabilities – but also on the opportunities and benefits of ‘smallness’, including the ability to play off larger powers against each other and influence international bodies to work on their behalf. But no consensus has emerged on what a small state is or does. By contrast, our common project takes as its starting point the crucial notion that ‘small’ is not a rigid and static category, but the result of internal discourses, which change over time. In our view, self-identifying as small is prescriptive: when a country considers itself ‘small’, it will act ‘small’. We will therefore focus on small state self-identifications as the result of processes of historical contingency and social construction. Specifically, we will highlight the connections between shifting ideas about a state’s (relative) size, competing notions of national interest and mission, and concrete foreign policy actions. This approach highlights the conditional nature of a small state’s international outlook and underscores the need for a historicized and comparative perspective.
- This project is supported by grants from NWO and the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam, and is being implemented in close cooperation with the universities of Iceland and Aarhus
- Hunger draws the map! This three year collaborative project brings together specialists working on different countries affected by the First World War to examine the impact of food shortages on societies during the conflict. We will consider both the causes (blockade as a mode of warfare, physical destruction and land loss) and the consequences of the reduced food supplies in various regions of the continent. Our goal is to compare the levels of hunger and the responses to it during and immediately after the First World War.
- This project is funded by a Leverhulme Trust International Network Grant.
- Transnational Images and Memories of Battle: This project aims to create a truly transnational history of the Battle of Malplaquet (1709), by far the costliest battle of the early modern period. It will focus not only on an analysis of the way news about the battle travelled through Europe, but will also analyse the way the battle’s reception and memory was influenced by cross-border movements of people and ideas. In this way, we can expand the notion of lieux the mémoire into the transnational space. Partners include the universities of Lille and Amsterdam, Huygens ING, and PHC Van Gogh.
- The Netherlands and the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). I am co-writign a Dutch-language book on small states together with dr Lodewijk Petram: see his homepage for more information.
- This project is funded by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Professor Van Winter-fonds.
I am the Course Coordinator of the UvA MA Programme in Military History. For more information on signing up for this programme, see this page. For a complete overview of the courses I currently teach, see the UvA Course Catalogue.
I am available for (BA, MA and PhD) thesis supervision on any topic related to my research interests. Do not hesitate to e-mail me and make an appointment to discuss your (future) plans.