Gerdien Evertse holds a BA in European Studies, another one in Musicology, and a third one in Spanish Language and Culture all of the University of Amsterdam. Her three bachelor theses discuss different aspects of the medieval Galician-Portuguese songbook the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Canticles of Holy Mary). Afterwards she continued her studies at Utrecht University and attained a research master’s degree in medieval history. Her master’s thesis is concerned with the power of the Castilian Queen Catalina of Lancaster (1373-1418) during her queen-consortship and her queen-regentship.
The Invention of the Refugee in Early Modern Europe
Summary of the project:
What is a refugee and when, why and how do societies create them? This project seeks to answer these questions by focusing on the agency of displaced minorities in early modern Europe (16th-18th centuries).
Integrating historical, legal and social scientific approaches to migration, this project proposes that the term ‘refugee’ frames a particular type of migrant as a victim of repression. It hypothesizes that religious dissenters in Reformation Europe were the first to develop and exploit this terminology. By pursuing a cross-confessional and transnational approach, this project will be the first to map the early modern invention of the refugee and gauge its long-term societal impact. In doing so, it seeks to achieve three inter-related objectives:
1. To explain the emergence of the refugee as a social category in European society. It will map when, where and why particular migrants started to describe themselves as refugees and trace the models (religious, political, legal) of such discursive strategies.
2. To identify the agency of displaced minorities in forging transnational solidarity networks. By studying how diasporic communities organized themselves, this project reveals the significance of refugees in shaping media coverage, initiating humanitarian interventions and promoting a new emotional culture that focused on empathy.
3. To uncover the impact of refugees on European state formation. This project will examine how the protection and accommodation of displaced men and women interacted with the ambitions of early modern authorities to expand their territories and forge confessional regimes.
Shifting away from traditional approaches to refugees as passive victims of conflict, this project will open up a new field in historical studies that views refugees as formative agents of social, religious and political change. It intends to transform the understanding of the concept of refugee for academics, policy makers and the wider public alike.
The project is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), it will run from 2018-2023. The project leader is professor Geert H. Janssen, furthermore there are three funded PhD positions and a Postdoc.
The project consists of three subprojects:
Subproject 3 Morisco Displacements
This subproject focuses on ‘Moriscos’, the large expelled Muslim minority from the Iberian peninsula. The majority of them ended up in the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, including Tunis and Istanbul. Of all diasporic groups, this one is arguably most understudied. But precisely because of the considerable size and distinct profile of this community, it is vital to integrate the Morisco experience into a wider European perspective on refugees.
As for objective 1, Tunis will be particularly important. The city is relatively well documented and housed a large Morsico community of at least several thousands. Overviews of relevant sources from Tunisia will help PhD3 to examine how various Morisco authors articulated their condition and presented themselves as ‘refugees’ in contact with authorities and host societies.
Objective 2 focuses on Morisco solidarities and will use Tunis and Istanbul as focal points of larger, cultural zones in the Mediterranean. Regarding the Morisco community in Istanbul, PhD3 can build on existing scholarship and in particular the pioneering work of Tijana Krstić. PhD3 will map how and in what contexts Moriscos were described in Ottoman bureaucracies and the extent to which networks of Morisco refugees also served as humanitarian support and pressure groups.