NWO research line The Dynamics of Memory. The Netherlands in the Second World War

  • van der Laarse, Rob (Recipient)



The Dynamics of Memory.
The research programme The Dynamics of Memory - The Netherlands in the Second World War - is an independent research line within the NWO thematic programme Cultural Dynamics founded and led by prof. dr. Rob van der Laarse and prof. dr Frank van Vree (UvA)

The programme addresses the question as to how the memory of the Second World War has developed and shall possibly develop and which position material and immaterial remains should have within this.

The Second World War took place more than 60 years ago. However, the memories of this in the broadest sense of the word are still alive and well in social circles as equally in politics and culture. Interest in the War among younger generations has diminished less than people thought possible 20 to 30 years ago.

The significance attached to these events has also changed over the years. In other words: after 'the War', this war has been remembered, portrayed an experienced very differently by different population groups. These changes also reflect how we deal with the surviving material and non-material remains, the heritage of the war.

These differences immediately lead to one of the main questions underlying this programme: which patterns can be unravelled in the history of the memory, which impulses have continually fed the remembrance culture right up until this day? Consequently, The Dynamics of Memory research programme is not aimed at investigating the history of the Second World War but rather the post-war remembrance culture in the broadest sense of the word.

With the passing of generations and the immense changes taking place in society (increasing ethnic diversity and globalisation) and in particular the cultural media (digitisation, visualisation), the heritage from the Second World War will enter a new phase. With this the 'guardians' of the heritage - government, heritage remembrance and educational organisations, archives and museums, but also artists and filmmakers - will be confronted with new questions: what must an open air museum or remembrance site do with the new generations that come to their gates, generations brought up in a world that revolves around 'authentic experiences'?

These are the very type of questions that have led to this programme. The subjects tackled are related to diverse aspects of the historic culture: war films, youth education, museum presentations, sites of remembrance, the passing on of stories from one generation to the next, dealing with the heritage of victims and perpetrators, and the history of the remembrance communities in the former Dutch colonies. These themes will always be studied in relationship to each other and in the light of developments elsewhere in Europe.

Besides these specific considerations, there are arguments related to policy and science. With a systematic and more wide-ranging approach it is possible to (1) achieve greater scientific depth; (2) to support the policy of organisations in this area at a fundamental level; (3) and at the same time to perform case studies which throw light on a variety of scarcely studied themes. Thanks to the interdisciplinary character and the programmatic approach, which must also be realised in the form of meetings, volumes and conferences, the subprojects can develop strength and depth whilst still allowing fundamental insights to be gained.

The programme is a collaboration between NWO's Division for the Humanities and the following organisations and funds: Kamp Westerbork, the Gevangenismuseum [Prison Museum], the Jewish Historical Museum, Kamp Amersfoort, Kamp Vught, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (War Victims and Memories Unit), the Ministry of Security and Justice (Custodial Institutions Agency), the Mondriaan Foundation, SNS Reaal Fonds, the Province of North Brabant and the Rothschild Foundation Europe.

last modified on 22 February 2011
Memory and recovering: the Jewish communities in the Netherlands. This postdoc research (co-financed by the Jewish Historical Museum and the Rothschild Foundation) deals with postwar Jewish life, and will result into a monograph as well as a contribution to an exhibition. Researcher: dr Bart Wallet (UvA)

The Future of War Heritage. This postdoc project (co-financed by the VWS Ministry) aims to present a state of affairs as well as an overview of expected future patterns with regard to war museums and heritage in The Netherlands. Research leader: dr Kees Ribbens (NIOD)

Hollandsche Schouwburg as a lieu de mémoire. The aim of this PhD project (co-financed by the Jewish Historical Museum and SNS Reaal) is to write a history of the theatre, before and during the war, its role in the history of the nazi persecution of the Jews and its subsequent development into a site of remembrance. The project will also deal will the plans for its reconstruction. Researcher: David Duindam (PhD UvA)

Sites of Terror. An International Research on Musealisation, Authenticity and Staging. This postdoc project (co-financed by the former camps Westerbork and Vught as well as the Mondriaan Foundation) will address the patterns in dealing with 20th century sites of terror in Europe, with a comparative study and number of conferences as output. Research: joint project, hosted at VU.

Imprisoned under German occupation. This postdoc project (co-financed by the Nationaal Gevangenis Museum and the Ministry of Justice) deals with the question how and to what extent the prisons in the Netherlands were part of state-sponsored terror under national-socialist rule and aims to portray the human relations involved. This will result in a monograph as well as an exhibition. Researcher: dr Anna Tijsseling (NIOD)

The Camps in the Netherlands as contested sites. This PhD project (co-financed by the former concentration camps Vught, Westerbork and Amersfoort and the Province of North Brabant) deals with the complex history of these camps as sites of memory and remembrance for various groups, living there during and after the war, in very different circumstances. This will result in a dissertation and an exhibition. Researcher: Iris van Ooijen (PhD, VU)

Artists of the Kultuurkamer. History and collective memory 1930-2010. This PhD-project (financed by UvA) deals both with the artists and organizations who sided with national socialism and fascism or were under the suspicion they had, as well as the way their art was received and dealt with after 1945. PhD Researcher: Claartje Wesselink (UvA)

Occupation and Resistance in a Museum Context. PhD project (financed by the Fries Museum and the UvA). The aim of this is project is both to write a history of the various museums in this field as well to analyze current and future developments of war museums, particularly with a regional function. The Resistance Museum Friesland, part of the Frisian Museum, will serve as case study. PhD Researcher: Erik Somers (UvA/NIOD)
last modified on 18 March 2011(OND1341905)
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