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February 24, 2021 - 12:00pm

Vancouver, BC


In this lecture, Dr. Stelder will present a postcolonial re-reading of Hugo Grotius’ Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty and The Rights of War and Peace, with a focus on how Grotius’ construction of the “colonial difference” structures his legal writings on property, sovereignty, Indigenous (dis)possession and slavery. Honing in on Grotius’ construction of colonial difference contradicts prevailing scholarship, which argues that Grotius perceived Indigenous peoples as free sovereigns and that he was critical of slavery. Stelder will show how his writings on Dutch colonial ventures in Southeast Asia must be situated within racial and imperial imaginaries and epistemologies circulating across oceans. Reading the Grotian imaginary through such a lens demands a deeper understanding of the influence of Grotian legal thinking on modern liberal humanisms and European and North American legalities and epistemologies of slavery and (settler) colonialism. Furthermore, it will challenge the persistent myth of the Dutch as "innocent" and “reluctant" imperialists.
Dr. Mikki Stelder is a postdoctoral fellow in Sociology (University of British Columbia) and Cultural Analysis (University of Amsterdam) whose current project Maritime Imagination: A Cultural Oceanography of Dutch Empire, Slavery and Colonialism is funded through a Marie Skłodowska Curie Global Fellowship from the European Commission. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 838904. Dr. Stelder other work has appeared in Radical History Review, Settler Colonial Studies and the Journal of Palestine Studies.

Image: Activists changed the "O" of the logo of the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) on a statue of the VOC officer Jan Pieterszoon Coen (in Hoorn, Noord-Holland) into a hanging rope to highlight the VOC's role in the murder of Indigenous peoples in Southeast Asia.