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 has a strong legal connotations. Legal identification involves proving one’s own inalienable identity, often by linking physical characteristics (photo, fingerprint, iris scan) to ‘papers’ such as a passport, birth certificate or other form of registration.


The project Getting acquainted: Identity in knowledge practices by Geertje Mak focuses on knowledge practices in which these layers of meaning come together. Mak investigates the interactions between different forms of identity. The project focuses on scientific knowledge practices relating to sexuality and gender and anthropometric practices. It is in these practices – varying from the measurement of body sizes to written surveys to identify gender variations – that research on scientific knowledge and physicality overlaps.


We also investigate how the concept of ‘Dutch identity’ has been shaped in schoolbooks, histories of literature and literary treatises since the early nineteenth century, and how identity is formed at the interface of language and historical-cultural practices.



Leonie Cornips and Louis van den Hengel, ‘Revitalisering van het mijnverleden in Heerlen door hybride taalculturele praktijken’. Studies over de Sociaaleconomische Geschiedenis van Limburg 63 / Jaarboek van het Sociaal Historisch Centrum voor Limburg (2018) 280-311.


Leonie Cornips and Pieter Muysken (red.), ‘Language in the Mines’, [themanummer] International Journal for the Sociology of Language 258 (2019).


G. Mak and S. Bultman, ‘Identity in Forms: Paper Technologies in Dutch Anthropometric Practices Around 1900’, International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity 7:1 (2019) 64-109.


Geertje Mak, ‘A Colonial‐Scientific Interface: The Construction, Viewing, and Circulation of Faces via a 1906 German Racial Atlas’, American Anthropologist. Special Issue Race and Face, 122:2 (2020) 327-341.


Geertje Mak,Touch in Anthropometry: Enacting Race in Dutch New Guinea 1903–1909, History and Anthropology, 28:3 (2017) 326-348.


Inger Leemans and Geertje Mak, ‘Identity/Collective Identities’, in: Maria Grever e.a. (red.), Bloomsbury History: Theory and Method, eds. (Bloomsbury, te verschijnen).