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 find out how ‘pride’, traditionally a sin, now appears to be a key component of national feeling; or why ‘passion’, a term that was once used to describe the suffering of Christ, has become a feel-good term. How is national mourning organised? What are the differences between black and white rage? Who is permitted to feel ‘at home’ in the Netherlands? And what is meant by happiness in this country? A team of historians, media experts, ethnologists, religious scholars, linguists and experts in the digital humanities will work on this critical lexicon of public emotions in the Netherlands.


The Dutch ‘passion for the Passion’ also turns on public emotions. De Matthäus, The Passion en andere passiespelen in ontkerkelijkt Nederland (Ten Have 2020), by Ernst van den Hemel, investigates the enduring popularity of the Passion: Bach’s Matthew Passion, the Passion plays in Tegelen, and the television programme The Passion (EO/KRO). How does the current staging of Christ’s Passion relate to religious and secular communities in the past and present? The story of Christ’s suffering mobilises affective communities of believers and non-believers in the Netherlands, bound by very different emotions.