Asking Kalmar and Penslar’s question: Were “Jews, as a group, objectively irrelevant to imperialism?”, this conference will focus on the under-studied Dutch empire and its legacy. Ranging from the Antilles to the Indonesian archipelago, this empire brought together Jews of Ashkenazi,s Sephardi and Middle Eastern and North African descent. Beyond the well-covered economic focus of the three main settlement empires of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands, the lasting impact of Dutch Jews on European empires and colonies as well as the impact of Empires on the Dutch Jews remains elusive. This conference will bring these histories together by looking for overarching themes such as slavery, race, geopolitics, philanthropy, political and social belonging, inter and intra ethnic relationships, and the contemporary legacies of the colonial encounters. The conference will thus encompass a broad chronology ranging from the 17th-the present day in order to get at the larger issues surrounding the intersections of Dutch Jews, colonialism, and empire.

Day One, 4 October 2021

Welcome by Prof. Judith Frishman

Introduction by Prof. Jessica Roitman

Session I: Early Modern Atlantic Jewish Entanglements
Chair: Prof. Jessica Roitman
The Tucacas-Connection: How Dutch-Jewish Merchants from Curaçao Infiltrated the Caribbean Coast of Venezuela.
Dr. Christian Cwik (University of Graz)
‘Without Jews, no Colonies’, 17th Century Jewish Lobbying Perspectives on their Contributions in Dutch-Brazil
Hans Wallage (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

15:00 Coffee/tea break

Session II: Amsterdam as Zone of Jewish Imperial Encounter
Chair: Dr. Dienke Hondius
African and Eurafrican Jews in the Amsterdam and the Dutch Atlantic in the 1650s.
Mark Ponte (Amsterdam City Archives, Mauritshuis)
Traces of Intimacy between Blacks and Whites in Early Modern Amsterdam: The Case of Juliana from Recife.
Dr. Natália da Silva Perez (University of Copenhagen)
Ishac Athias’ Conception of Dominium and Libertas in the Seventeenth-Century Dutch Republic Debate on Slavery and Slave Trade, Dr. Yehonatan Elazar-DeMota (TMC Asser Institute) – through a livestream connection

End of Day One

Day Two, 5 October 2021

Session III: Texts and Images: Reflecting Imperial Ideas and Ideologies
Chair: Prof. Bart Wallet
The Jewish Qur’an: An Eighteenth-Century Hebrew Qur’an Translation from Dutch Cochin.
Prof. Alexander van der Haven (University of Bergen)
A Land of Ghosts: an ‘Archaeology of Knowledge’ around Notisias dos Judeos de Mosseh Pereira de Paiv.
Dr. José Alberto Rodrigues da Silva Tavim (Centro de História, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa)
Imperialism in Early Modern Jewish Visual Culture of Holland.
Rachel Kupferman (University of Bar Ilan) – through a livestream connection

Lunch break
lunch will be not available at the venue, but there are various restaurants and cafe’s in its vicinity)

Session IV: Modern Dutch Jewish Imperial Interactions
Chair: Prof. Judith Frishman
On the Concept of Repentance (Teshuva) in Ashkenazi Suriname, 1809-1876.
Dr. Eli Rosenblatt (Northwestern University, Chicago)
Dutch Elite Jews in the Dutch East Indies (1870-1940).
Sietske van der Veen (Huygens Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis/Universiteit Utrecht)

Coffee/tea break

Religious Impact of Jewish Second World War Refugees in the Caribbean,
Rosa de Jong (Universiteit van Amsterdam/NIOD/KITLV)
Transit or Refuge in the Diaspora? European Jews in the Dutch East Indies, Singapore and Shanghai Compared.
Dr. Liesbeth Rosen Jacobson (Universiteit Utrecht)

Live concert: ‘Jewish Composers and the New World’
Marcel Worms (piano)
more info

Closure of the symposium and drinks (if Corona regulations allow)

This symposium is convened by the Menasseh ben Israel Institute Committee for the History and the Culture of the Jews in the Netherlands. The Menasseh ben Israel Institute is an academic collaboration of the Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Jewish Cultural Quarter of Amsterdam. The Symposium’s organizing committee consists of Dr. Dienke Hondius, Prof. Jessica Roitman, Dr. David Wertheim and Dr .Yehonatan Elazar- DeMota. The organization of the symposium expresses it gratitude to Stichting Collectieve Maror-gelden Nederland and Stichting Levi Lassen for providing financial support.

Uilenburger Synagogue, Nieuwe Uilenburgerstraat 91, Amsterdam

Regular fee: €40
Discounted fee: €25, for students and Friends of the Menasseh ben Israel Institute

Tickets need to be ordered in advance by sending an email to upon which you will receive a confirmation and a payment request. Due to the Corona-regulations there is only a restricted number of seats available. It may well be possible that coronaregulations by 4-5 October also will require proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test.