The project started in 2017 by bringing together European researchers who, independently and simultaneously, were delving into colonial interference in children’s lives as an important technique in colonial civilizing projects. The symposium Colonizing children (Mak, Amsterdam 2017) examined the links between historical research, development studies and non-governmental development organizations in the Netherlands. It addressed discourses and techniques of mobilizing children (education, vocational training) and identified various forms of ‘child removal’ that blended philanthropic and colonial discourses (freeing children from slavery, adoption, village re-settlement programs, boarding schools). These discourses and techniques were transferred between metropole and colony and reverberate in later campaigns of development organizations. The workshop ‘Colonialism and education in a comparative perspective: analyzing gendered civilizing missions (ca. 1850-1970)' (Unger-Kamphuis, Florence 2017) focused on non-state colonial actors who constituted colonial society and whose civilizing missions shaped the realities of the lives of children in colonial context. The joint panel session ‘Creating European Loyalties: the Double-Edged Role of Children in Colonial Civilizing Projects' (Mak-Monteiro-Jensz, Nijmegen 2017) concentrated on archival and methodological questions related to the agency of local children under Dutch and German colonial regimes.
The COAC-network is embedded in the following institutes and research groups:
1. Amsterdam School of Historical Studies, Modern History Group
The institutional setting of the project is within the Modern History Group of the Amsterdam School of History. Global, international and imperial history feature as a core interest of the Modern History Group, along with transnational approaches to European histories and cultural transfer across borders.
2. Institute of Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen
The Institute for Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies assembles, promotes and integrates humanities research focusing on the complexities of the past and present of Europe in a changing world. Questions of Europa as metropole and its entanglements of empire are specifically addressed in the research group 'Categories Contested', which Mak, Monteiro, Derksen and Reichgelt are part of. The group concentrates on difference (gender, age, ethnicity, religion) as central mechanism in processes of categorization that have defined colonial realities, thereby integrating expertise from gender history, cultural history and religious history.
3. Centre for Gender and Diversity (CGD), Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University
Research projects at the Centre for Gender and Diversity delve into the dynamic intersections between crucial categories of social differentiation, specially within the arts. The arts vitally contribute to the recycling and transformation of "behavioural scripts". The centre studies art forms from high culture and popular culture, i.e. fiction, poetry, film, photography, life-writing, the performing arts, and children’s media. The Centre for Gender and Diversity (CGD) is represented in the COAC-network through co-applicant dr. Lies Wesseling, who is both the director of the CGD and associate professor in the Department of Literature and Art of Maastricht University.
4. Cluster of Excellence for "Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures", WWU Münster (Germany)
PD Dr. Felicity Jensz has been employed in the Cluster of Excellence for “Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures” at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University Münster, Germany since 2008, where she is working on a project on missionaries and the shifting ideologies relating to the provision of education for non-Europeans in colonial spaces. The Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures” was founded in 2007 at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Some 200 academics from more than 20 disciplines in the humanities and social sciences and from around 14 countries deal with the relationship of religion and politics across epochs and cultures. It is nationally the largest research association of its kind and of the 43 Clusters of Excellence in Germany, it is the only one to deal with interdisciplinary religious research.
5."Power in History", Centre for Political History, University of Antwerp (Belgium)
The Centre for Political History of the University of Antwerp is represented in the initial network through prof. dr. Henk de Smaele. De Smaele has published books and articles on Belgian political history in the nineteenth century. His current research interests include the history of body, gender and sexuality (18th-20th centuries) and the history of ‘cultural encounters’. It is his present ambition to combine ‘queer’ and ‘postcolonial’ perspectives in a rethinking of the powerful and omnipresent metanarrative of ‘modernisation’ in cultural and political history. Currently, he supervises the project "Uprooted Childhoods: Practices of Transnational Child Displacements (Belgium, 1945-1980)" carried out by Chiara Candaele, which investigates how post-war cases of transnational child displacements were organized in Belgium against the backdrop of international evolutions on thinking about childhood. By studying (from a transnational and postcolonial perspective) the consecutive waves of children who were relocated to Belgium, the project launches research on the history of transnational adoption and foster care, while at the same time it will improve our understanding of the ideologies of childhood and family, as well as nation and ethnic identity, in post-war Belgium.
6. Department of History and Civilization, European University Institute (EUI), Florence (Italy)
The Department of History and Civilization (HEC) is one of the leading research groups in European history and Europe’s role in the world. HEC researchers are committed to transcending the confines of national history and engaging in major theoretical debates in the field of comparative, transnational and global history. HEC is represented in the COAC-network through prof. dr. Corinna Unger. Unger's research focuses on global and international history and on the history of colonialism and decolonization. Most recently she has been working on the history of development aid in the twentieth century with a focus on India since 1947. Corinna Unger is the supervisor of Kirsten Kamphuis's PhD project on indigenous girlhoods and education in the Netherlands Indies (1880-1940).
• Prof. dr. Margaret D. Jacobs, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA)
• Prof. dr. Elizabeth Buettner, University of Amsterdam
• Dr. Esther Captain, Leiden University
• Wim Manuhutu MA, VU University Amsterdam
• Dr. Martijn Eickhoff, NIOD, Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Amsterdam
• Prof. dr. Inger Leemans, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam