Jelle van Lottum appointed professor of History of Labour

Jelle van Lottum has been appointed as professor by special appointment of the History of Labour Migration in a Comparative Perspective at Radboud University’s Faculty of Arts, with effect from 1 August 2020. Van Lottum is currently head of the History Department at Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING), a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jelle van Lottum (Stiens, 1976) studied Economic and Social History at VU Amsterdam. He was awarded a PhD by Utrecht University in 2007 for a study on the economic effects of labour migration in the North Sea region between 1550 and 1850. From 2007 until 2011, Van Lottum worked at the University of Cambridge (and St John’s College), where he acquired two individual research grants: first a one-year grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), followed by a three-year grant from the British Academy.

Oxford, Birmingham, Amsterdam

After a brief stay at the University of Oxford, Van Lottum went on to work as an assistant professor of Social and Economic History at the University of Birmingham from 2011 to 2016, leading the ESRC research project that he had taken with him from Oxford. In 2016 he continued his career at the Huygens ING, first as senior researcher and as of this year as head of the History Department.

Opportunities for labour migrants

Jelle van Lottum is an expert on the history of labour migration in Europe from about 1600 down to the present day. His most recent research project studies the opportunities for labour migrants in the Dutch economy in a comparative perspective, using the latest methods from the ‘digital humanities’ (information technology in humanities research) and paying attention to both macro-economic developments and individual stories.

Van Lottum is particularly interested in how the chances of social mobility for labour migrants in the Netherlands have changed in the past several centuries – how did their careers develop between 1600 and today? How does the Dutch case compare to developments in other countries, and how do free forms of labour migration relate to other, forced types such as indentured servitude or slavery?

Applied history

The new chair is part of the expertise group Economic, Social and Demographic History . Van Lottum will focus not only on his research on social mobility of labour migrants in the course of the centuries, but also on the applicability of historical research. How relevant is historical migration research to our understanding of the role of labour migration today? What are the possibilities – and limitations – of applied history?

Van Lottum is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied History, a journal that he established in 2018 together with Harm Kaal (Radboud University).