Information and Power in History
full papers and abstracts of the international conference on 16 – 17 March 2017 in Amsterdam
Disclaimer: These papers are unredacted and archived on this website as written. Nothing may be quoted or cited without permission.
Pictures taken at the conference can be found here.
Experts and Influence
This panel has the role of experts and expertise as transmitters and mediators of information as its subject. It takes on the public role of science within social and political organizations, and the way their concepts frame and influence practices within civil society and administrative and political elites. What is the relative significance of experts in different historical periods? How did their techniques of collecting and framing information, influencing and wielding power, develop? Experts can vary from merchants to marketeers, from advisors to the court to modern political scientists.
The Dialectics of Knowledge, Power and Order in the XVII C. Safavid Realm
Wim de Jong:
Electoral research, pollsters and the performative power of information about the ‘public’. The Netherlands in comparison (1950-1990)
The Mediated Expert: The Scientisation of the Political in the Media Age
Dr David Napolitano:
Knowledge is power. Opening up the teaching monopoly on the art of rulership in medieval Italy
Information as a means to power: the use of unique mercantile knowledge
Near to the fire: information possibilities of the scribes of the Parlement of Paris at the end of the Hundred Years War
The Keys to the Kingdom. Re-evaluating the Notion of ‘Access’ in the Early Modern Court
Willem de Clercq’s limitations and ambitions: his tenure as secretary of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij, circa 1824
Adriejan van Veen:
From corporatism to independent regulation. Are independent regulatory authorities in the Netherlands decoupled from, or still dependent on interest group expertise?
Disclosure and Control
This panel will focus on the control of information by governmental institutions, such as spokesmen, intelligence agencies and spies. How did governments between the 15th and the 20th century try to manage the flow of information? How did they exercise their power, either by distributing information or by withholding it? And did they use their control over the flow of information as a means of coercion or even oppression? Furthermore, this panel will focus on non-governmental actors who have reacted to the governmental control over information. These actors include press agencies, whistleblowers and professional historians. How have they tried to gain access to information or to disclose information, despite the governmental restrictions?
State secrecy and the historian’s craft Three approaches to lifting the veil of classified government archives
Contention for Information: Witnessing, Verification and Written Truths
The disclosure of governmental information by whistleblowers (1970-2000)
Secrets and political power Dutch politicians and domestic intelligence
Doctrines of Information in the Spanish Dictatorship (1939-1975)
The Knowledge under Surveillance: Institutional Support of the Academic Historical Periodicals in the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Poland at the Beginning of 20th Century
Leveraging information organization knowledge in communist public libraries
The Bolshevik Revolution of Knowledge: The Big Soviet Encyclopedia Enterprise.
Policy and Decisionmaking
In this panel we mainly concentrate on the direct relations between information and decision making. Topics vary from the physical transfer of information, via information gathering and use to more abstract questions like how information was processed and appreciated by decision makers and how this related to power. This will be discussed against the background of different contexts such as warfare, water management, and diplomacy , from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century.
Information Management by Napoleon’s Dépôt général de la Guerre (1799-1815)
The griffiers and the keeping of information in the Resolutions of the States General of the United Dutch Provinces (1576-1796)
Administrative tools of legitimacy. Politics and practices of information in the Dutch States General (1716-1830)
Unifying the Country. Requests for Information in the Batavian-French Period (1795-1813)
Milja van Tielhof:
Useful information? Financial reporting by Dutch water authorities in the early modern period
The Perils of the Post-Road?: Diplomatic Couriers and the Informational Fabric of Early Modern Europe
Exchange and Hegemony
This panel will focus on ´information activity´, the creation, acquisition and exchange of information in relation to power during various periods of time. How and where did information transfer come about? How did specific information networks and institutions, especially those acting within the context of imperial hegemony, deal with confidential knowledge?
Alistair Black, Bonnie Mak:
Periods, Themes and Events: Pedagogical Keys to Understanding the Place of Power Relations in the History of Information
Economic Indicators and the Coming of Civil War
László Z. Karvalics:
Price-information. Whose Power? Lessons from the early 19th century
Information and Power in the Dutch Colonial Empire A case study from the Dutch East India Company, circa 1760
Ruling the Holy Land: Colonial Knowledge and the Biblical Past in Mandate Palestine, 1918-1948
Djoeke van Netten:
Sailing and secrecy. Information control and power in overseas companies
Information Transfer between the English and Dutch East India Companies in the Early 17th Century
Full paper (not the final version of the author, research still in progress)
Inside or Outside Europe: the use of news and information in Europe and change of the image of Hungarians and Ottomans during the Bocskai Revolt (1604-1606)
Joris van den Tol:
Lobbying colonial policy from the periphery: Decision-making and the control of long-distance information in the Atlantic, 1630-1660.
Empowerment and Neglect
In this panel, we will explore the use of information with respect to specific groups. How did information acquisition or exchange play a role in the empowerment or marginalization of women, the disabled, migrants, people of mixed ancestry or persona non grata? In unravelling these processes there will be a specific focus on the spatial and organizational dimensions of information and the role of technological innovation.
Marijke van Faassen:
The whereabouts of migrants: a comparison of Dutch migrant registration systems.
Projects of Security: Building State Power through Control and Welfare
The Dutch comptoir as information centre
Along and against the archival grain Defining flows of information and mechanisms of power in Dutch post-war policies towards German enemy citizens
Liesbeth Rosen Jacobson:
“The Eurasian Question”, solved by paternal knowledge?’
Paul van Trigt
Governing the social by (un)covering information. The case of disability in the postcolonial Netherlands