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James Symonds

James Symonds

NIAS theme group

Project title

New Worlds & New Commodities: Transformations of Everyday Life in 17th & 18th century Dutch Republic

Research question

James Symonds investigates how tobacco smoking and tea drinking practices were received and adopted in the Dutch Republic, integrating material evidence from archaeological excavations and archives.

Project description

James Symonds’ research will investigate the emergence of the commonplace, rather than lingering on exceptional luxury items, and will seek to document how goods related to the consumption of colonial commodities grew in number to become the ‘new norm’ in Dutch households.

Specific research questions include: How were tobacco smoking and tea drinking received and adopted by Dutch households in the 17th and 18th centuries? Does archaeological evidence point to differential rates of uptake and use of tobacco and tea between, for example, port cities, inland towns, and rural settlements? What factors influenced the adoption and spread of tobacco smoking and tea drinking (i.e., cost, taste, social status, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs)? How were these new objects tied to international networks of exchange and colonial exploitation? And finally, how should we narrate the heritage of changing consumer choices in the Dutch Republic in the context of colonial capitalism?

Selected publications

  • Symonds, J. (ed.) 2010. Table Settings: the material culture and social context of dining, AD 1700-1900. Oxford, Oxbow Books.
  • Orser, C.E., Zarankin, A., Funari, P.P.A., Lawrence, S. and Symonds, J. eds., 2020. The Routledge Handbook of Global Historical Archaeology. London: Routledge.
  • Symonds, J. (ed.) 2021. A Cultural History of Objects in the Renaissance. London, Bloomsbury Publishing.