High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

Harvest of the University Press (autumn 2021)

Harvest of the University Press (autumn 2021)

Universities all over the world publish academic monographs and scientific journals on the Low Countries. In this article, we present you with a selection of recent university press publications in English.

Colonialism and Slavery - An Alternative History of the Port City of Rotterdam
Gert Oostindie

Rotterdam, the second-largest Dutch city, is one of the leading European port cities. Its maritime expansion was intrinsically linked to Dutch colonialism, including slave trading and colonial slavery in the Americas, Africa and Asia. This painful history sits uneasy with the city’s contemporary profile, with its large number of ‘new Rotterdammers’ with colonial roots.

The present volume provides a summary of the research that has documented this history, with chapters on the contribution of colonial trade to economic development; the city’s involvement in slavery; the role of the urban political elites; the impact on urban development and architecture; the so-called ethical impulse; colonial art and ethnographic collections; colonial and postcolonial migrations; and finally, the resonance of this history in postcolonial Rotterdam.

Leiden University Press

Rembrandt, Vermeer, and the Gift in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art
Michael Zell

Michael Zell offers a new perspective on the art of the Dutch Golden Age by exploring the interaction between the gift's symbolic economy of reciprocity and obligation and the artistic culture of early modern Holland. Gifts of art were pervasive in seventeenth-century Europe, and many Dutch artists, like their counterparts elsewhere, embraced gift giving to cultivate relations with patrons, art lovers, and other members of their social networks. Rembrandt also created distinctive works to function within a context of gift exchange, and both Rembrandt and Vermeer engaged the ethics of the gift to identify their creative labor as motivated by what contemporaries called a "love of art," not materialistic gain. In the merchant republic’s vibrant market for art, networks of gift relations and the anti-economic rhetoric of the gift mingled with the growing dimension of commerce, revealing a unique chapter in the interconnected history of gift giving and art making.

Amsterdam University Press

Congoville - Contemporary Artists Tracing Colonial Tracks.
Pieter Boons and Sandrine Colard (eds.)

One hundred years after the founding of the École Coloniale Supérieure in Antwerp, the adjacent Middelheim Museum invited Sandrine Colard, researcher and curator, to conceive an exhibition that probes silenced histories of colonialism in a site-specific way. For Colard, the term Congoville encompasses the tangible and intangible urban traces of the colony, not on the African continent but in 21st-century Belgium: a school building, a park, imperial myths, and citizens of African descent. In the exhibition and this adjoining publication, the concept Congoville is the starting point for 15 contemporary artists to address colonial history and ponder its aftereffects as black flâneurs walking through a postcolonial city.

Due to the multitude of perspectives and voices, this book is both a catalogue and a reference work comprised of artistic and academic contributions. Together, the participating artists and invited authors unfold the blueprint of Congoville, an imaginary city that still subconsciously affects us, but also encourages us to envision a decolonial utopia.

Leuven University Press

Mindblowers: Where Art and Science Meet
Caroline Pauwels, Michael De Cock, Lynn Tytgat and Catherine Vervaecke (eds.)

Art and science are both ways of understanding the world and orientating oneself in it. Scientists and artists are society's visionaries, and this unlikely collaboration between the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and KVS aims to reconnect these different disciplines, sending the strong message that tomorrow’s society will only be built on the basis of dialogue and the search for common ground.

Mindblowers is structured around four themes: Resistance, Imagination, Time and Beauty. The 39 contributions from different artists and scientists are diverse and thought- provoking in form and content, ranging from recipes to letters, from articles to a photo-novella.

VUB Press

The Cambridge Companion to Hugo Grotius
Randall Lesaffer and Janne E. Nijman (eds.)

The Cambridge Companion to Grotius offers a comprehensive overview of Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) for students, teachers, and general readers, while its chapters also draw upon and contribute to recent specialised discussions of Grotius' oeuvre and its later reception. Contributors to this volume cover the width and breadth of Grotius' work and thought, ranging from his literary work, including his historical, theological and political writing, to his seminal legal interventions. While giving these various fields a separate treatment, the book also delves into the underlying conceptions and outlooks that formed Grotius' intellectual map of the world as he understood it, and as he wanted it to become, giving a new political and religious context to his forays into international and domestic law.

Cambridge University Press

Reappraising the History of the Jews in the Netherlands
J.C.H. Blom, David J. Wertheim, Hetty Berg and Bart T. Wallet

Release date: 1 October

The two decades since the last authoritative general history of Dutch Jews was published have seen such substantial developments in historical understanding that a new assessment has become an imperative. This volume offers an indispensable survey from a contemporary viewpoint that reflects the new preoccupations of European historiography and allows the history of Dutch Jewry to be more integrated with that of other European Jewish histories. Historians from both older and newer generations shed significant light on all eras, providing fresh detail that reflects changed emphases and perspectives.

In addition to such traditional subjects as the Jewish community’s relationship with the wider society and its internal structure, its leaders, and its international affiliations, new topics explored include the socio-economic aspects of Dutch Jewish life seen in the context of the integration of minorities more widely; a reassessment of the Holocaust years and consideration of the place of Holocaust memorialization in community life; and the impact of multiculturalist currents on Jews and Jewish politics. Memory studies, diaspora studies, and postcolonial studies all play their part in providing the fullest possible picture.

Liverpool University Press

Ethnography and Encounter. The Dutch and English in Seventeenth-Century South Asia
Guido van Meersbergen

Release date: 18 November

The global operations of the East India Companies were profoundly shaped by European perceptions of foreign lands. Providing a cultural perspective absent from existing economic and institutional histories, Ethnography and Encounter is the first book to systematically explore how Company agents’ understandings of and attitudes towards Asian peoples and societies informed institutional approaches to trade, diplomacy, and colonial governance. Its fine-grained comparisons of Dutch and English activities in seventeenth-century South Asia show how corporate ethnography was produced, how it underpinned given modes of conduct, and how it illuminates connections across space and time. Ethnography and Encounter identifies deep commonalities between Dutch and English discourses and practices, their indebtedness to pan-European ethnographic traditions, and their centrality to wider histories of European expansion.


Military Power and the Dutch Republic - War, Trade and the Balance of Power in Europe, 1648-1813
Alan Lemmers, Christiaan van der Spek, Jan Hoffenaar, Marc van Alphen

In 1667, the year of the Raid on the Medway, the Dutch Republic was at the pinnacle of its might and fame. A century and a half later little of this glory remained and Napoleon wiped the country off the political map. This book provides a military explanation for the ‘miracle’ of the seventeenth century and the demise that ensued. How were the army and navy in the Dutch Republic organised and financed? What tactics were employed and how did military leaders operate? Where did the Republic’s troops come from and how was society involved? How did the tens of thousands of anonymous sailors and soldiers live, and how were they regarded by civilians?

Leiden University Press

Collective Memory and the Dutch East Indies - Unremembering Decolonization
Paul M.M. Doolan

This book examines the afterlife of decolonization in the collective memory of the Netherlands. It offers a new perspective on the cultural history of representing the decolonization of the Dutch East Indies, and maps out how a contested collective memory was shaped. Taking a transdisciplinary approach and applying several theoretical frames from literary studies, sociology, cultural anthropology and film theory, the author reveals how mediated memories contributed to a process of what he calls "unremembering." He analyses in detail a broad variety of sources to reveal how five decades of representing and remembering decolonization fed into an unremembering by which some key notions were silenced or ignored. The author concludes that historians, or the historical guild, bear much responsibility for the unremembering of decolonization in Dutch collective memory.

Amsterdam University Press

Collective Housing - A new habitat for living in Brussels
Joren Sansen and Michael Ryckewaert

In Brussels, the need for affordable and middle-income housing is entangled with the necessity to reduce the environmental impact of housing. The current climatological and health crises demand us to improve the resilience of our human habitat in the city. In planning and developing new collective housing projects, private and public developers alike are struggling to find the right answer to these questions.

In this book, the authors present a research that identifies mismatches between housing preferences and housing offer. These mismatches are affected by the design of collective housing projects and by how they are produced. By confronting the
Brussels’ examples with cases from Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Hamburg they identify alternative design and organisation strategies.

VUB Press

Women Artists in the Early Modern Courts of Europe c. 1450-1700
Tanja L. Jones (ed.)

This volume presents the first collection of essays dedicated to women as producers of visual and material culture in the Early Modern European courts, offering fresh insights into the careers of, among others, Caterina van Hemessen, Sofonisba Anguissola, Luisa Roldán, and Diana Mantuana. Also considered are groups of female makers, such as ladies-in-waiting at the seventeenth-century Medici court. Chapters address works by women who occupied a range of social and economic positions within and around the courts and across media, including paintings, sculpture, prints, and textiles. Both individually and collectively, the texts deepen understanding of the individual artists and courts highlighted and, more broadly, consider the variety of experiences of female makers across traditional geographic and chronological distinctions.

Amsterdam University Press

Images of the Indonesian War of Independence, 1945-1949
Sander van der Horst, Linde Lammers, Melle van Maanen

Release date: November 2021

Four years of protracted negotiations and bitter warfare passed between the declaration of Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945, and the official transfer of sovereignty on 27 December, 1949. Whereas the newly proclaimed Republic of Indonesia rejected the colonial regime and hence any attempt at ‘recolonization’ by the Dutch after the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), the Dutch framed their return to the archipelago as a mission to restore ‘order and peace’. These wildly contrasting perspectives were visualized in propaganda posters, pamphlets and all kinds of printed materials. Many of these materials, alongside photographs and oral history collections, ended up in the collections of the KITLV and eventually the Leiden University Libraries. This trilingual (English, Dutch and Indonesian) catalogue accompanies a digital exhibition of some fifty unique items. The selection made demonstrates the sharply contrasting perspectives on the legitimacy of the Republic and Dutch colonialism, and also offers first-hand testimonies of a bitter war with a huge imbalance of casualties.

Leiden University Press

Authorizing Early Modern European Women - From Biography to Biofiction
James Fitzmaurice, Naomi Miller, Sara Steen

Release date: 6 December 2021

The essays in this volume analyze strategies adopted by contemporary novelists, playwrights, screenwriters, and biographers interested in bringing the stories of early modern women to modern audiences. It also pays attention to the historical women creators themselves, who, be they saints or midwives, visual artists or poets and playwrights, stand out for their roles as active practitioners of their own arts and for their accomplishments as creators. Whether they delivered infants or governed as monarchs, or produced embroideries, letters, paintings or poems, their visions, the authors argue, have endured across the centuries.

As the title of the volume suggests, the essays gathered here participate in a wider conversation about the relation between biography, historical fiction, and the growing field of biofiction (that is, contemporary fictionalizations of historical figures), and explore the complicated interconnections between celebrating early modern women and perpetuating popular stereotypes about them.

Amsterdam University Press

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