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Dr Guido van Meersbergen

Guido Van MeersbergenAssistant Professor in Early Modern Global History

Office: H0.14 (Humanities Building, ground floor)

Email: g dot van-meersbergen at warwick dot ac dot uk

Tel: (+44)(0)24 765 22163 (internal extension 22163) (please contact me by email or via Teams in first instance)

Office hours (via MS Teams): Tuesdays 11-12 and Wednesdays 11-12 (please book here) and on appointment (via email).

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL

Academic Profile

2019-present: Assistant Professor in Early Modern Global History, University of Warwick

2016-2019: Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, University of Warwick

2015-2016: Max Weber Fellow, European University Institute, Florence

2014-2015: Tutor, Universiteit van Amsterdam and Universiteit Leiden

2010-2014: PhD, History, University College London

Current Research

I am a historian of early modern global encounters whose research focuses on cross-cultural trade and diplomacy in the Indian Ocean world, with a particular interest in the activities of the European East India Companies in the Mughal Empire. My first monograph, Corporate Ethnography and Cultural Encounter: The Dutch and English East India Companies in South Asia (1600-1720) (Brill, forthcoming), maps the role of ethnographic ideas and assumptions in the management and operations of the Dutch and English East India Companies (VOC and EIC). Focusing on encounters in different parts of India and Sri Lanka in the realms of commerce, diplomacy, and colonial governance, it analyses the intricate ways in which corporate writing cultures and early modern ethnography both reflected and drove the Companies’ engagement in cross-cultural contacts. In addition to preparing my book for publication, I am currently co-editing a volume of essays entitled Trading Companies and Travel Writing, 16th-19th centuries (Routledge, forthcoming), as well as a special issue on the role of diplomatic gift-giving and tribute relations in early modern Afro-Eurasia for the journal Diplomatica. With colleagues at UT Austin, Monash, and McGill, I also co-coordinate an international collaborative project on the embassy of Sir William Norris to Mughal India (1699-1702), which will result in a scholarly edition of Norris' embassy diaries published by the Hakluyt Society.
My ongoing research, started as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship (2016-2019), draws on approaches from diplomatic history, cultural history, and global history to reconsider the place of European actors within the diplomatic world of early modern South Asia. It investigates how early modern European and South Asian diplomatic actors interacted at different South Asian courts, forged diplomatic relationships, and mediated cultural difference. It questions established Europe-centred narratives of the rise of early modern diplomacy by highlighting the significance of Asian actors and polities in this wider development. The research aims to result in a comparative monograph on European diplomatic practices in early modern South Asia. For a fuller description of the project and its activities, see 'Cross-Cultural Diplomacy Compared: European Diplomats in South Asia'.


A Global History of Travel: Odyssey to Aeroplane (HI3K2)

Go-Betweens: Crossing Borders in the Early Modern World (HI2B2)

Caravans and Traders: Global Connections, 1200-1500 (HI2B8)

Europe in the Making 1450-1800 (HI113)

Themes & Approaches to the Historical Study of Empire (HI995)


I welcome postgraduate students interested in the history of early modern diplomacy, travel, trade, empire and ethnography in the Indian Ocean world.


  • '"Intirely the Kings Vassalls": East India Company Gifting Practices and Anglo-Mughal Political Exchange (c. 1670-1720)', Diplomatica 2.2 (2020), 270-290. Link.
  • 'Introduction: Gift and Tribute in Early Modern Diplomacy: Afro-Eurasian Perspectives', Diplomatica 2.2 (2020), 185-200 (with Birgit Tremml-Werner and Lisa Hellman). Link.
  • 'The Diplomatic Repertoires of the East India Companies in Mughal South Asia, 1608-1717', The Historical Journal 62.4 (2019), 875-898. Link.
  • 'Diplomacy in a Provincial Setting: The East India Companies in Seventeenth-Century Bengal and Orissa', in: Adam Clulow and Tristan Mostert (eds.), The Dutch and English East India Companies: Diplomacy, Trade and Violence in Early Modern Asia (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018), 55-78. Open access.
  • ‘Writing East India Company History after the Cultural Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Seventeenth-Century East India Company and Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie’, Journal of Early Modern Cultural Studies 17.3 (2017), 10-36.

  • 'The Merchant-Diplomat in Comparative Perspective: Dutch and other Embassies to the Court of Aurangzeb, 1660-1666’, in Tracey Sowerby and Jan Hennings (eds.), Practices of Diplomacy in the Early Modern World c.1410-1800 (New York: Routledge, 2017), 147-165.

  • ‘Dutch and English Approaches to Cross-Cultural Trade in Mughal India and the Problem of Trust, circa 1600-1630’, in Cátia Antunes and Amélia Polónia (eds.), Beyond Empires: Global, Self-Organizing, Cross-Imperial Networks, 1500-1800 (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2016), 69-87.

  • ‘Kijken en bekeken worden: Een Nederlandse gezant in Delhi, 1677-1678’, in Lodewijk Wagenaar (ed.), Aan de overkant: Ontmoetingen in dienst van de VOC en WIC (1600-1800) (Leiden: Sidestone Press, 2015), 201-216.

  • ‘‘In goede en vertroude handen’: Communicatie en beleid bij de VOC tijdens de Hollandse Oorlog (1672-1678)’, De Zeventiende Eeuw 27.1 (2011), 80-101.

  • ‘De uitgeversstrategie van Jacob van Meurs belicht: De Amsterdamse en ‘Antwerpse’ edities van Johan Nieuhofs Gezantschap (1665-1666), De Zeventiende Eeuw 26.1 (2010), 73-90.

'The East India Company's Relations with the VOC and South Asian Powers in the 17th-18th centuries', East India Company, Adam Matthew (2020).

External Roles

  • Council Member of the Hakluyt Society
  • Symposium Coordinator for the Hakluyt Society.