VU historians Inger Leemans and Ronald Kroeze receive NWO Internationalisation grant of 50,000 euro

For their research project Banking on Financial History

07/18/2018 | 1:17 PM

Inger Leemans, professor of Cultural history and Ronald Kroeze, assistant professor of History have been awarded a NWO Internationalisation in the Humanities grant of 50,000 euros for Banking on Financial History. Together with a team of historians of finance and economics - Joost Dankers (Utrecht University), Anne Murphy (University of Herfortshire) and Koji Yamamoto (University of Tokyo) - Leemans and Kroeze will bring researchers from various countries and disciplines together to research stock trading from long-term, interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives.

The aim is to build a sustainable international network to safeguard and promote the tangible and intangible heritage of financial history, actively engage the public, to develop new perspectives on the history of trading and financial crises, and challenge the sector to consider and safeguard its past. With questions: What is the value of financial heritage? How can we improve our understanding of practices and emotions in the financial sector throughout history? And what can the sector and public learn from this past?

180718 Inger Leemans NWO TekstThe years 2019 and 2020 mark the tercentenary of the first international financial crisis that hit the main European centers of trade: The South Sea Bubble of 1719-1720 (or Windhandel as the Dutch used to call it). Since that first wave of international trader enthusiasm and increasing emotions among the public about finance, share and derivatives trading has grown into one of the major fields of finance, visible and tangible for the public through the stock exchanges that were built in all the major finance centers across Western Europe. Through practices such as the ‘open outcry systems’ share trading developed into a highly complex and unique cultural system, with a set of specific rules, signals and sensitivities.

The financial centers, in other words, gave rise to the ‘affective economy’ of share trading, embodied by stock brokers and embedded in built environments. As the world of finance has gone through major changes, especially the computerization and globalization of the sector since the 1970s, and because trader communities are extremely volatile, the sector tends to suffer from historical amnesia. It is therefore urgent to safeguard this tangible and intangible financial heritage to secure the possibility to study and learn from the past.