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Introducing: Noelle Richardson and Susana Münch Miranda

Since September 2021, Noelle Richardson and Susana Munch Miranda work as postdoctoral researchers within Cátia Antunes' VICI project 'Exploiting the Empire of Others: Dutch Investment in Foreign Colonial Resources, 1570-1800'. Below, they introduce themselves.

Noelle Richardson

It is admittedly somewhat odd to introduce myself as I am not a complete new to Leiden, but I am grateful for the opportunity to do ‘properly’. I first came to Leiden in 2016 during my PhD as part of an exchange program between the European University Institute and the Institute of History. In 2018-2019 I was project leader and coordinator of the research profiles ‘Leiden Global Interactions’ and ‘Asian Modernities and Traditions’ and organized the (sorely missed) Gravensteen Lecture Series. In September of this year I joined the VICI project of Cátia Antunes as a postdoctoral researcher.

My research has focused on the history of colonialism in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, namely the engagement between European states/agents and Asian actors, and the responses of local society to imperial expansion. My doctoral thesis, which is in preparation for publication, focused on the role of Hindu merchants in the Estado da Índia in the eighteenth to nineteenth century, their myriad processes of engagement with the Portuguese colonial state, and the manner in which they negotiated and exploited their status as imperial subjects. Going beyond the boundaries of the Estado, it also analysed their status as significant mercantile actors the broader economy of the Indian Ocean, and their role as important local commercial partners and political intermediaries for (other) European actors active in the region. My current research continues on these similar tangents to explore how Dutch firms and entrepreneurs exploited the empires of the British and Portuguese in Asia and the nature and importance of their cross-cultural partnerships with local mercantile actors. With this project, I hope to contribute greater nuance and complexity to debates on the dynamics, consequences and legacy of European imperial exploitation in Asia. 

Prior to starting my PhD at the EUI, I read Modern South Asian Studies at the University of Oxford and taught for two years as a lecturer in political history at Utrecht University. I am very happy to be back at Leiden and look forward to reconnecting with old colleagues and to meeting new ones soon.

Susana Münch Miranda

Although I have mostly developed research in Portuguese institutions, I am not new to the Institute for History. From 2014 to 2016, I was part of the ERC Research project ‘Fighting Monopolies’ led by Prof. Cátia Antunes and I am happy to be back in a familiar place. Before coming to Leiden, I have held research positions at the University of Lisbon and the University of Évora.

My main research interests lie in the economic and social history of the Iberian Peninsula and its colonial offshoots, with a special focus on the economic and institutional processes that underpin state formation and empire building in the early modern period. I have contributed to a wide range of topics, gaining insights into issues such as the transference and adaptation of European fiscal institutions to colonial settings, the role of colonial elites in imperial governance and the regulation of property rights in Iberian empires.

In recent years I have developed two strands of research. The first concerned Portuguese public debt and its impact on private credit. As part of a team, I contributed to the construction of datasets on outstanding debt, debt service and the evolution of interest rates, and also worked on the sociology of credit to uncover the links that connected the state and investors (individuals and institutions) through a system of funded debt. Our datasets are open source and have expanded our knowledge of the connections between the state and businessmen through short- and long-term debt. The interdependencies that emerged between private actors and states are also present in my second strand of research, albeit with the aim of understanding the exploitation of colonial resources during the first wave of globalization. I have been examining the activities of foreign merchant communities, mostly Dutch and German established in Lisbon as wholesale traders, money lenders, tax farmers and interlopers of the Portuguese colonial trade. Their activities serve as a lens through which to observe the mechanisms of acquisition and transfer of resources across multiple borders (empires, states, and cultures).

I will continue to pursue this last research strand in the coming years and hope to contribute to uncovering the involvement of Dutch firms in colonial projects of ‘the others’ through extensive family and business networks that transcended national and imperial borders.

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