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 of the United Netherlands, 1738-1803). Academic advisory boards published (and still publish) frequent reports on the ‘state of the Netherlands’. This sub-project analyses continuity and change in descriptions of the Netherlands and the Dutch within this genre. 


In doing so, particular attention is paid to:

  1. Governmental control: what role did the government play in managing the publications on the ‘state of the Netherlands’?
  2. Methodology: what is the balance between quantitative and qualitative analysis in the descriptions?
  3. International historical dimensions: did the authors also aim to put the history of the Netherlands in a European or global perspective? If so, how did they do this in practice? Did the authors frequently compare ‘typically Dutch’ features with those of other countries, for example in an argument about the key differences between court life in France and the Netherlands? Did nationalism have increasing impact on the historiography over time?