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Symposium Revisiting Dutch Brazil -
New research into Johan Maurits and the Dutch presence in Brazil

On 6 June the Mauritshuis organises a symposium to share and discuss recent research into the history of Dutch Brazil, its population, governance, economy and afterlife: Revisiting Dutch Brazil: New research into Johan Maurits and the Dutch presence in Brazil.

The history of the Dutch colony in Brazil (1630-1654) continues to fascinate both professional historians and a broader audience alike. The Mauritshuis naturally has a long-standing interest in the history of the Dutch colony in Brazil:  Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen had the Mauritshuis built during the time he was governor-general of the colony in 1636-1644. 

The presentations on 6 June will cover a broad array of topics, including the governance of the colony, the position of specific groups within the colonial administration, and the tenure of Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen as governor; but also issues such as food production, the Dutch presence in Angola, and the presence of former inhabitants of the colony in Amsterdam and more.

Frans Post, View of Itamaracá Island in Brazil, 1637 Frans Post, View of Itamaracá Island in Brazil, 1637

This symposium is part of a multi-year research project into the history of Dutch Brazil which will start later this year. De history of Johan Maurits and Dutch Brazil is also central to the exhibition Shifting Image – In search of Johan Maurits which runs until July 7 at the Mauritshuis. Visitors to the symposium will also be able to visit the exhibition during the break or after the end of the symposium program (the museum is open until 20:00).

For more details on speakers and topics, see the full programme below.

Date 6 June
Time 9.30 am - 5.15 pm
Location Mauritshuis, The Hague
Language English
Registration Please register by sending an email to


09:30  Welcome 
Opening: Emilie Gordenker, Director Mauritshuis 
Introduction: Erik Odegard, head of research project
PANEL 1: Governing a colony
Joris van den Tol - Leiden University, Petitioning the government of Brazil
Luize Navarro - Universidade Federal do Paraná, Institutions and Law in Dutch Brazil: municipal councils and the circularity of legal culture from 1630 to 1654 
Catia Antunes - Leiden University, The Dutch presence in Luanda based on Portuguese sources
Lucia Werneck Xavier - Mauritiana project, Social interactions in Dutch Brazil (1630 - 1654)
11:40-12:00 Break
PANEL 2: Johan Maurits in Brazil and beyond 
Mariana de Campos Francozo - Leiden University, Johan Maurits' collection - then and now 
Benjamin Teensma, Nassau's failed Bahia campaign of 1638 as a benchmark of his military qualities 
Erik Odegard - Mauritshuis/Erasmus University, Accounting for the court of the count: income and expenses of Johan Maurits in Brazil 
Carolina Monteiro - Mauritshuis, Johan Maurits through the lens of Frei Manuel Calado 
Keynote: Wim Klooster, Clark University, The Imperial Dimension of Dutch Brazil
PANEL 3: Societies and aftereffects
Bruno Miranda - Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Supplying War: Food production policies in the times of Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen in Brazil (1637-1644)
Karwan Fatah-Black - Leiden University, Brazil and the vision of Surinam: colonial continuities  
Mark Ponte - Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Brazilians in Amsterdam (1624-1700)
Leandro Metthews Cascon - Leiden University, From Montezuma to Tupinambá: on classification and the colonial imagination
Closing remarks 
Drinks reception and optional visit to the exhibition

The symposium and the long-term research project are realised in part due to the support of the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund. The preparatory phase of the research project is being financed by the Johan Maurits Compagnie Foundation.

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