Tessa Lobbes

Cultural exchange. Conflicts and identity. The Netherlands and Belgium. First World War. Culturele uitwisseling. Conflict en identiteit. (Post)colonial culture. Football and music.

Tessa Lobbes is managing editor of the academic journal BMGN – Low Countries Historical Review,

which covers the history of the Netherlands and Belgium. The journal is published by the Royal Netherlands Historical Society and forms part of Huygens ING. In 2012 she completed her PhD at KU Leuven, on the teaching of history in Belgium since 1945: Verleden zonder stof. Strijd om het geschiedenisonderwijs in BelgiëShe has worked at KU Leuven and Utrecht University as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer. 

Lobbes’ expertise includes the history of cultural exchange and identity formation in the Netherlands, Belgium and their former colonies in the twentieth century. She is particularly interested in cultural interaction in times of conflict. For example, she examined the role of bilingual cultural mediators in Belgian conflicts and debates about language in the 1920s and 19030s. As a member of the HERA project ‘Cultural Exchange in Times of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War’, Lobbes studied how, under heavy pressure from foreign war propaganda, Dutch and Indonesian public intellectuals revised their ideas about the nature and orientation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As members of the neutral Dutch empire, the two groups considered similar questions – which warring party will benefit my national, racial or religious ideal? – and they also reflected on each other’s positions in their debates about the ideal post-war society. 

Lobbes’ expertise and research interests also contribute to NL-Lab’s ambition to analyse Dutch history and culture from a (post)colonial perspective. As an affiliated researcher, Lobbes is finalising her monograph on Dutch and Indonesian intellectuals in the First World War and taking part in the NL-Lab project ‘Writing the Netherlands’. At NL-Lab, she is focusing on cultural exchange and identity formation in times of war, (de)colonisation and migration from the twentieth century to today. For example, by studying aspects and sites of popular culture such as football/the stadium, music/the club and food/the corner shop, Lobbes is investigating post-war cultural interactions between Dutch people without a migration background and postcolonial migrant groups.