Willem van Schendel

Have a look at this website if you want to know more about my work. I am a researcher working in the fields of history, anthropology and sociology of Asia. I teach and do research at the University of Amsterdam (Chair in Modern Asian History) and at the International Institute of Social History.

Research themes

My current research deals with (a) Borderlands and the social consequences of the mobility of people and goods. Borderlands are important sites for studying migrating people and moving commodities as well as the shifting networks of solidarity, remittances, knowledge, meaning and power that result from such practices. My main focus is on the borderlands of India, Bangladesh and Burma. (b) Mobile cash-crop production systems and trajectories of globalization. I am interested in the production of commodities for world markets, how production was embedded in agrarian societies, and under which circumstances these systems could be moved from one (colonial) society to another. Why were plans to establish a new cash-crop production system successful in one case but not another? How did different combinations of labour, land, water, capital and knowledge enable or disable such systems? My main focus is on the global movement of indigo production in the late 18th and 19th centuries, with special attention to British India (now India/Bangladesh) and the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia).

  • Research programme Illegal But Licit: Transnational Flows and Permissive Polities in Asia (NWO-WOTRO)  Link Illegal but Licit
  • Research programme Plants, People and Work: The History of Cash Crops in Asia, 18th to 20th Centuries (NWO-GW)  Link Plants, People and Work
  • Research programme Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas, Amsterdam Institute for Social Schience Research (AISSR) Link Programme

    Publications » Books


    The Camera as Witness: A Social History of Mizoram, Northeast India

    (Delhi/Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), with Joy L.K. Pachuau. http://www.cambridgeindia.org/showbookdetails.asp?ISBN=9781107073395 Read More...


    孟加拉国史 – Mèng Jiā Lā Guó Shĭ

    (Beijing/Shanghai: Cambridge University Press and Orient Publishing Centre). (in Chinese) Read More...


    A History of Bangladesh

    (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) http://www.cambridge.org/asia/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521679749

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    Willem van Schendel

    • hong kong, china
    • terengganu, malaysia
    • yogyakarta, indonesia
    • gyeongju, south korea
    • islamabad, pakistan
    • maesai, thailand
    • terengganu, malaysia
    • assam, india
    • tongi, bangladesh
    • busan, south korea
    • west bengal, india
    • unawatuna, sri lanka
    • puthia, bangladesh
    • yunnan, china
    • meghalaya, india



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