Ernst van den Hemel

Religious Studies. Heritage. Populism. Social Media. Ritual and Tradition. Passion Plays.

A religious studies scholar, Ernst van den Hemel defended his PhD in 2011 at the University of Amsterdam. His thesis analysed the literary and political dimensions of the work of the Protestant reformer John Calvin. Since then, he has lectured at the University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University. He has been a research fellow at the Université Paris 8, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University.

Van den Hemel’s research focuses on national identity and religion, specifically on the role of emotions and media. In his recent publication Passie voor de Passie: De Matthäus, The Passion en andere passiespelen in ontkerkelijkt Nederland (Passion for the Passion: Bach’s St Matthew Passion, The Passion and other Passion plays in secularized Dutch society, Ten Have 2020) he investigates the remarkable rise in the popularity of Passion plays in contemporary Dutch society. In the project ‘Populism, Social Media and Religion’, he analyses how the religious past plays a role in populist movements. 

At NL-Lab, Van den Hemel will focus on religion and contemporary imaginations of Dutch national identity. In the ‘Writing the Netherlands’ project, he focuses on how religion is quantified and categorized, and the role that quantifications of religion play in the ways in which contemporary Dutch society is imagined.