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Personal profile

Personal information

I hold the Chair for the History of Water- and Environmental History, financed by the VU and the Schilthuis fonds. In my research and teaching I focus on the environmental, social-economic, political and cultural aspects of the relationships between humans, animals, water and landscape. With my historical projects I want to promote environmental awareness and thus contribute to the transition to a more sustainable world. In particular I want to draw attention to water in its two essential functions, as safety threat and as scarce resource.

Key words:

environmental history, ecological history, animal history (eel, rabbit), social-economic history, global history, medieval history, local history, cultural history, water heritage

water history, water governance, water management, water institutions, water authorities, water boards, water technology, dikes, dams, sluices, culverts, lakes, canals, rivers, polders, reclamations, water safety, clean water, water pollution, drinking water, water aesthetics

I am active in the international field of environmental history, in particular in the European Society for Environmental History and co-founder of the Environmental Humanities Center at the Free University in Amsterdam. I am co-editor of the journal Environment and History and founding editor of the book series Water, Cultuur en Geschiedenis (Water, Culture, and History).


Ik ben hoogleraar Water- en Milieugeschiedenis. De leerstoel wordt gefinancierd door de VU en het Schilthuisfonds. In mijn onderzoek en onderwijs richt ik mij op de milieu-, sociaal-economische, politieke en culturele aspecten van de relaties tussen mensen, dieren, water en landschap. Met mijn historische projecten wil ik het milieubewustzijn bevorderen ter ondersteuning van de transitie naar een meer duurzame wereld. In het bijzonder wil ik aandacht vragen voor waterveiligheid en de (toenemende) schaarste aan drinkwater.


milieugeschiedenis, ecologische geschiedenis, dierengeschiedenis (paling, aal, konijn), sociaal-economische geschiedenis, wereldgeschiedenis, middeleeuwse geschiedenis, lokale geschiedenis, cultuurgeschiedenis, watererfgoed

waterstaatsgeschiedenis, water bestuur, waterschappen, rijkswaterstaat, drinkwatermaatschappijen, waterbouw, dijken, dammen, sluizen, duikers, kanalen, meren, rivieren, polders, droogmakerijen, waterveiligheid, schoon water, watervervuiling, drinking water, mooi water

Mijn laatste boek:

Van Amsterdams peil naar Europees referentiepeil. De geschiedenis van het NAP tot 2018 (Hilversum 2018).



Overview of Research Projects

2015-16  ‘Impact of Circulation. The watercycle in households and enterprises in Delft, Rotterdam and Amsterdam in international perspective 1550-1950,’ dr. M. van Tielhof (P.I.), Huygens-ING, Prof. dr. P.J.E.M. van Dam, VU GW,  dr. S. Elpers, Meertens Instituut, M. Opmeer, VU (SPINlab). Financed by Huygens-ING: 1 postdoc.

2011-2016  In search of the poldermodel. Participation and representation in Dutch water boards in the pre-democratic era’,  Prof. dr. M.R. Prak (P.I.), University Utrecht, dr. M. van Tielhof, Huygens-ING, Prof. dr. P.J.E.M. van Dam, VU. Financed by Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (N.W.O.): 1 PhD student, 3 Postdocs.

2002-2005: ‘Rijnland 750 – Dealing with Water in an Urban Landscape (900-1857),’ Prof. dr. P.J.E.M van Dam (P.I.). Financed by the Regional Waterboard of Rijnland and the Vrije Universiteit: 1 Postdoc, 1 PhD student.

2002-2008.: Individual research grant awarded by the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Netherlands (K.N.A.W.) for the research project: ‘An Ecological Transformation at the Northsea Coast. Ecosystems, Trading Networks and Institutions in Holland, Zeeland and Northern  Germany, 1300-1700.

1998-2002: Postdoctoral Research Fellowship awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research for the research project: ‘The Ecological Transformation of the Dunes in Holland. Human and Natural Agency in the Explanations of Sand Drift, 1300-1600.’

1998: Talent Fellowship awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, 1 year.

Ancillary activities

  • Journal Environment and History | Cambridge | Bestuurder | 2010-04-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Netherlands Agriculture & Biology
dams (hydrology) Agriculture & Biology
color Agriculture & Biology
research projects Agriculture & Biology
students Agriculture & Biology
arts Agriculture & Biology
dunes Agriculture & Biology
households Agriculture & Biology

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1996 2017

An Amphibious Culture. Coping with floods in the Netherlands

van Dam, P. J. E. M., 2017, Local Places, Global Processes. Histories of Enviromental Change in Britian and Beyond. Coates, P., Moon, D. & Warde, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxbow Books, p. 78-93 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterProfessional

The beautiful and the global

van Dam, P. J. E. M., 2017, Local Places, Global Processes. Histories of Environmental Change in Britian and Beyond. Coates, P., Moon, D. & Warde, P. (eds.). Oxford: Oxbow, p. 184-187 4 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Open Access

Floods, Worms, and Cattle Plague: Nature-induced Disaster at the Closing of the Dutch Golden Age 1672-1764

Sundberg, A. D., 2016, 359 p.

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research external, graduation externalAcademic

Waterstaatserfgoed en de grote verhalen van de waterstaatsgeschiedenis

van Dam, P. J. E. M., 2016, In : Tijdschrift voor Waterstaatsgeschiedenis. 25, 1, p. 8-15 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademic

Activities 1999 2016

Environmental Humanities Center (External organisation)

Steenbergh, K. (Board member), Kluiving, S. J. (Board member), Kwastek, K. (Board member), van Dam, P. J. E. M. (Board member)
4 Nov 2016 → …

Activity: MembershipAcademic

Amphibious elements in Dutch water culture: Dealing with floods, 1200-1800

van Dam, P. J. E. M. (Speaker)
18 Jan 2013

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic

De amfibische cultuur

van Dam, P. J. E. M. (Speaker)
7 May 2013

Activity: Lecture / PresentationAcademic