Writing the Netherlands

What characterises Dutch identity? What are the core values of Dutch society? How do feelings of national identity clash with modernisation, individualisation, Europeanisation, globalisation and migration? Since the 1990s, questions such as these have been prominent on the national agenda. Not only are they actively debated in the public sphere, but they also form the […]

The state of the Netherlands

This sub-project in the Writing the Netherlands Programme investigates the broad contours of the ‘Writing the Netherlands’ tradition, by charting the publications that describe the Netherlands and its inhabitants on the basis of statistical and topographical accounts. One iconic example of this ‘genre’ is the 38-volume series Tegenwoordige staat der Vereenigde Nederlanden (The current state […]

National identity in biographic dictionaries

The Biografisch Portaal van Nederland (Dutch Biography Portal, Huygens ING) forms a central access point for biographic information. It brings together a range of published information about more and less familiar figures in Dutch history, from the earliest years to the present day. Biographic dictionaries such as these have played (and play) an important role in the canonisation […]

Collecting the Netherlands: the history of the collections of the Meertens Institute.

For over ninety years, the Meertens Institute has being acquiring archives and research collections on the Dutch language and culture. This unique material on linguistic variation, ethnology and onomastics forms part of the national heritage of the Netherlands. The institute currently manages more than 700 collections, including research data (digital and non-digital), audio collections, archive […]

Cheese

Cheese is a typically Dutch product. This is often reflected by its packaging, which shows idealised images of its origins and how it is made: Frau Antje, contented cows and traditional farming practices. This project does not overlook how cheese has played a key role in the Dutch landscape and gastronomic culture, economy and image. […]

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Public diplomacy

In recent years, there has been great interest in how foreign states use the media to influence political debates. Countries such as Russia and the United States invest large sums in influencing foreign audiences via social media, in order to achieve diplomatic objectives. NL-Lab is researching the history of this form of ‘public diplomacy’. The […]

Westforschung

The Westforschung project is being undertaken as part of the Writing the Netherlands Programme. The project investigates how the image of the Netherlands has been shaped by external forces. In particular, it looks at how, shortly before and during the Second World War, the Germans tried to gain insight into their neighbours with the aid of […]

Odeuropa

The COVID-19 crisis has underlined how smell plays a key role in everyday life: not only is the loss of smell one of the symptoms of COVID-19, but the lockdown has also influenced our olfactory environment (we miss the aroma of vending-machine coffee at the office and fragrant smells when dining out). But what role […]

Populism, social media and religion

Populism poses a major challenge to society and academia. Movements such as the PVV (the Netherlands) and PEGIDA (Germany) do not fit neatly into existing paradigms, and they publish few programmatic texts. How should we understand populist movements? This project draws on social media data to analyse how key concepts are defined in populist ideology. […]

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Easter egg

The elections of 2017 were dominated by the issue of Dutch religious-cultural identity. Christian symbols and the ‘Judaeo-Christian’ tradition were brandished by Liberal politicians such as Mark Rutte and populists from the PVV. This article draws on ostensibly trivial examples, such as Easter eggs, to examine the new ways in which religion has become a […]

Petitions

The Dutch have long been enthusiastic petitioners. For centuries, Dutch citizens in their masses filed requests and petitions with every conceivable authority. They submitted proposals and made their wishes and interests known, but they also called their leaders to account. Due to the citizens’ active role in the political process, the country and the machinery […]

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The Kite

The kite seems to be a fleeting thing: a fun toy for the young, but swiftly forgotten after childhood. How can we thus explain the enduring fascination of the Dutch with kite-flying? The Netherlands is a country of kite enthusiasts. A history of the representation of the kite in Dutch culture reveals that it crops […]

Identity

NL-Lab investigates how identity is created, and analyses the concept of ‘identity’ on a more theoretical level. The concept of identity links individual experience, perception and identification with collective categories such as nation, gender, ethnicity, religion and sexuality. It can mean both ‘identical’ (the same as others in this category) and ‘unique’, individual. Moreover, identity […]

Public emotions

NL-Lab documents emotions in the Netherlands. In partnership with the Meertens Institute, we investigate which emotions are displayed in public debates, and why certain emotions have become so dominant in the public arena. We aim to produce a ‘humours map’ of Dutch society, focusing on differences, demarcation lines and historical developments. The project seeks to […]

Liquorice – Taste and Identity

Liquorice is viewed as a ‘typically Dutch’ product, and as a characteristic form of Dutch identity. But why is this the case? Liquorice is also eaten elsewhere, and the liquorice plant Glycyrrhiza glabra, the roots of which give the black sweet its distinctive taste, is not native to North-western Europe. Liquorice was probably first introduced […]

The affective economy

The Netherlands has long been portrayed as a sober nation of merchants. The Republic of Seven United Netherlands, one of the world’s first modern capitalist economies, is said to have been built on a prudent commercial moral code. This myth was grounded in the dominant economic theory of the efficient market, with homo economicus as […]

The cow and language

The cow is an important symbol of the Dutch landscape, ‘Dutchness’, the Dutch economy and Dutch eating practices. But it is also a controversial symbol; in 2019, 21 million cattle were slaughtered in the Netherlands, the majority of them calves younger than twelve months. In our imagination we picture cows in the Dutch landscape, but […]

From generation to generation

The research theme From generation to generation is coordinated by Geertje Mak. Based on the concept of the ‘generation’, with this theme Mak wants to contribute to thinking about history as a process of generational transfer. One aspect that cannot be avoided is sex: sex in its concrete forms and variations, but also the social, […]

Retranslation/translation

The Dutch language is spoken far beyond the nation’s borders, but the Netherlands itself has always been a multilingual country. Moreover, as a small linguistic region, the Netherlands was an early specialist in translation to and from the national tongue. NL-Lab investigates the ‘Dutch translation factory’, but we also carry out research on the ‘departed […]

The hat

Behind an object as simple as a hat lies a complex cultural code. Hats feature in many seventeenth-century portraits

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Cultivar

The Cultivar project investigates the historical links between the cultivation of a country, animals and humans. It focuses in particular on the concept of the colony. A colony or ‘human settlement’ was a form – an ideal type – where the reclamation and cultivation of land went hand in hand with the development or education […]

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