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Masterclass – prof. dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Buettner: Postcolonial Europe

Postcolonial Europe: Legacies and Memories of Empire in Everyday Life and the Imagination

Date: Tuesday 10 November 2015
(plus a preliminary 2-hour pre-meeting, Thursday October 29, from 10.30 – 12.30. PC Hoofthuis 6.06, Spuistraat 134, Amsterdam)
Time: 10:30 am – 5:30 pm
Venue: University of Amsterdam, University Library – Potgieterzaal, Singel 425, Amsterdam
Credits: 2 EC
Open to: Research Master students and PhD Candidates
Fee (non-members): € 50,00
Coordinated by: Prof. dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Buettner

This Masterclass concerns the aftermath of empire in Europe after 1945 and focuses on comparing and contrasting how different societies have come to terms—or failed to come to terms—with the many types of imperial legacies that continue to shape the lives and mental horizons of increasingly multi-ethnic European populations.   How have Europeans remembered and forgotten overseas empires through the prisms of decolonization, the Cold War, European integration, inward migration from ex-colonies and other places, and intense cultural transfers that characterize an era of accelerating globalization (among other shifts)? Although this class places social and cultural dimensions at center stage, participants may also reflect on the political aspects of these issues.   Participants are encouraged to consider not only larger social and cultural processes but explore how former empires have shaped lived experience and ways of thinking at the grassroots and local levels among different social sectors—together with the ways imperial legacies have acquired visibility at different moments in time across an ever-longer postcolonial era.

Liz Buettner started as Professor of Modern History at the University of Amsterdam in January 2014. Her research centres on British imperial, social and cultural history since the late nineteenth century along with other European nations’ histories of late colonialism, decolonization and their domestic ramifications. She has just completed a book manuscrript entitled Europe After Empire: Decolonization, Society and Culture (to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2016) that examines British, French, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese histories of coming to terms with the end of empires after the Second World War, focusing on the domestic impact of decolonization, postcolonial migration, the emergence of contemporary multicultural societies, and selective memories of empire. In the coming years she looks forward to expanding upon previous research on postcolonial South Asian migration and cultures in diaspora, placing South Asians in Britain within wider transnational contexts. Buettner received her BA from Barnard College of Columbia University and her MA and PhD from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She has taught in England at the University of York since 2000 and in 2012-2013 held a senior research fellowship at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany in conjunction with a British Academy mid-career fellowship. Buettner’s publications include Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India (Oxford University Press, 2004) together with articles in the Journal of Modern History, History &Memory, Scottish Historical Review, Annales de Démographie Historique, Ab Imperio, Food and History, the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, and a number of edited collections.

This event is organised by the Huizinga Institute in cooperation with the Department of History (Geschiedenis, Europese Studies, en Religiestudies), University of Amsterdam


Tuesday 10 November 2015

10:30-12:00   Introductory keynote/lezing by Liz Buettner, followed by questions and discussion from participants

12:00-1:00   Lunch

1:00-3:00   Participant Research Presentations, followed by questions (15-20 minutes each)

3:00-3:30   Coffee and tea

3:30-4:30   Participant Research Presentations, followed by questions (15-20 minutes each)

4:30-5:30   Round table Discussion, reflecting on how the different presentations connect with each other and building upon wider scholarship (including the required readings) on postcolonial European memories and legacies

[Refreshments will be provided during the Round table Discussion]

Preparation and readings:


At a 2-hour pre-meeting (Thursday October 29), participants will be assigned 2 or 3 required readings (articles and/or book chapters) to read and reflect upon prior to 10 November. Everyone will briefly introduce themselves and their research topics, indicating what they propose to discuss in their mini-presentations during the Masterclass. Afterwards, they will prepare these individual presentations that will take place on 10 November, each of which will last between 15-20 minutes. The presentations should concern participants’ own research as it connects to the specific subject matter of this Masterclass, and position it in dialogue with wider issues illuminated by the required readings (and other relevant texts).


  • Reading and analysing the required articles/chapters in preparation for 10 November
  • Preparing and completing the 15-20 minute presentation on 10 November
  • Asking questions and constructively engaging in the round table discussion that forms the concluding session of the Masterclass
  • Writing a c. 2,000-word paper after the Masterclass that builds upon the 15-20 minute presentation, embedding participants’ individual research topics within broader scholarship—including (but not necessarily limited to) the themes highlighted by the required readings and by the other work presented during the lezing/keynote and by fellow participants. This assignment should be submitted no later than 10 days after the Masterclass takes place (20 November 2015).

After successfully completing all the requirements for this Masterclass, you can obtain a certificate of the credits upon request ( With this certificate you can validate the credits at your own local Graduate School.