Hieronder vindt u de artikelen die verschenen zijn in BMGN – LCHR 125-2/3 (2010).
- Klaas van Berkel & Leonie de Goei, The International Relevance of Dutch History: Introduction
Lees verder ▼Long gone are the days in which the only audience that really counted for the historian was to be found within his or her own national community. In times of increasing globalisation, the relevance of national history to an international audience is an issue no one can really ignore. It forces historians to rethink priorities in the histories of their own countries, and to face the possibility that what is important in their own national context might not be important in the international context, and visa versa.
The relevance of national history is an issue confronting all historians, of whatever national background. To mark the occasion of the 21st International Congress for Historical Sciences in Amsterdam, this special issue focuses on the relevance of the history of the Netherlands to more general historical debates. In November 2008, the editorial board of the Bijdragen en Mededelingen betreffende de Geschiedenis der Nederlanden/Low Countries Historical Review organized a conference on this theme under the aegis of The Royal Netherlands Historical Society (KNHG). Leading historians were asked to consider the role of the Netherlands in a number of key problems in world history, from medieval trade to the Holocaust of the twentieth century, relating Dutch experience to broader patterns of European and global history and comparing the work of Dutch scholars to that of historians in other countries. Are there themes within international history, they were asked, that can be illuminated by paying attention to the history of the Netherlands? Thanks to the speakers, the discussants from the Netherlands and from abroad, who also acted as referees for the written versions of the contributions, we were able to put together a fine collection of essays concerning internationally relevant chapters of Dutch history.
In our choice of topics, we tried to include cultural, political, social and economic history, spread evenly over time. However, some of the factors in Dutch history many readers may have expected to be included in this volume are left out: for example, the history of water management and early modern Dutch overseas history. In these two cases, the international relevance of Dutch history is so evident, that it would in a way be carrying coals to Newcastle to stress the importance of these here. As editors of this volume, we intended simply to show that Dutch history is of relevance to international history.
The international relevance of Dutch history (or for that matter the history of any country) can be demonstrated in various ways, and the contributors to this volume have each chosen their own format within which to make their case. For example, Dutch history can be relevant internationally because the Dutch provide the exception that proves the rule. In other instances, Dutch history may be the exemplary case: the finest example one can think of to prove a certain case. Yet other contributors have taken the Netherlands as a kind of laboratory where, due to certain special circumstances, people in the past have experimented with new ways of living or new ways of thinking that were still impossible to find elsewhere. And finally, some contributors have highlighted how the Dutch situation simply raises questions that have not yet been properly addressed by the international literature. In all these cases, the aim was not to prove that the Dutch situation was unique. Uniqueness in history is hard to prove in any case, and in more than one instance what was thought to be unique turned out not to be quite so unique after all. Our concern was more to demonstrate that, even in cases where the Dutch seem to have taken their own route to modernity, a study of the peculiarities of Dutch history may prove to be rewarding for those historians who are mainly interested in themes of a general, rather than specifically national, character. The general themes, rather than the special nature of Dutch history, are our point of departure; we did not ask the contributors to deal with topics that are important to understanding Dutch history, but topics that are relevant to the historical process in a more general sense. Without denying the value of national history for a national audience, our ambition was thus to present a collection of essays that deal with history in the Netherlands, not just the history of the Netherlands.
- Willem Frijhoff, The Relevance of Dutch History, or: Much in Little? Reflections on the Practice of History in the Netherlands
Lees verder ▼This essay presents a series of reflections on the relevance of Dutch history. Taking different angles of approach, it examines in particular the historical image and self-image of the Dutch and the nation’s cultural identity; the role played by the heritage issue in the rise of the new political nationalism; the fascination of foreign historians for Dutch history and their influence on Dutch historiography itself; the role of language in history-writing and the question of whether ‘relevance’ is a meaningful category at all for historians. To conclude, four great themes of Dutch history are identified as of supranational relevance: water management; economy and society, in particular capitalism and colonialism; culture and intellectual life, tolerance and secularity, in particular – but not only – in the early modern era; and the national ambition to show the world an exemplary route to modernity.
- Bas van Bavel, The Medieval Origins of Capitalism in the Netherlands
Lees verder ▼Large parts of the Netherlands saw an early rise in market traffic during the late Middle Ages already. Exchange via the market became the dominant form not only for goods, but also for land, labour and capital, and this during the course of the sixteenth century already. This contribution investigates why it should be that the market form of exchange arose so early here specifically; how markets were organised as institutions and how they functioned. It will be demonstrated that the markets here had a favourable organisation, with low transaction costs, a high level of integration of the markets and a large degree of certainty for parties entering these markets. Nevertheless, the consequences of the rise of the market were not all positive. The rise of a market economy did not lead to any appreciable economic growth, while the social effects were largely negative. Social polarisation, pollution and the need to work ever harder depressed standards of living for most people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
- Klaas van Berkel, The Dutch Republic. Laboratory of the Scientific Revolution
Lees verder ▼Historians agree about the significance of the Scientific Revolution for the development of modern society; there is little agreement, however, as to the nature and the causes of this major shift in our perception of the natural world. In this article, it is argued that we may profit from studying this problem in the context of the Dutch Republic during the seventeenth century, the Republic being in many ways a laboratory of modern life. In this article, three factors often mentioned as contributing to the new scientific themes are explored in the Dutch context. The first factor dealt with is the mingling of scholars and craftsmen; the second the role of the universities as centers of both teaching and research, and the third the congruence of scientific and mercantile values in the early modern Dutch trading communities.
- Maarten Prak, The Dutch Republic as a Bourgeois Society
Lees verder ▼Historians have often portrayed the Dutch Republic as the first ‘bourgeois’ society. What they had in mind was an early example of a society dominated by the sort of middle class that emerged in most other European countries after the French and Industrial Revolutions. In this article, ‘bourgeois’ is perceived in a slightly different way. By looking at the ‘bourgeois’ as ‘citizens’ – often, but not necessarily, middle class in a social sense – the article paints a picture of a plethora of blossoming urban civic institutions. Such civic institutions also existed in other European countries. What set the Dutch Republic apart, however, and indeed made it an early example of a ‘bourgeois’ society, was the dominance of these civic institutions in the Republic’s socio-political life.
- Wijnand Mijnhardt, Urbanization, Culture and the Dutch Origins of the European Enlightenment
Lees verder ▼The Dutch Republic currently plays a prominent role in the big debates on the origins and nature of the European Enlightenment. However, relatively little attention has been devoted to the role played by urbanization in this. This contribution focuses on the specific form of urbanization that took place in Holland, and a compelling relationship is established between urbanization in the coastal provinces and a series of political and religious issues that were of decisive importance in the early European Enlightenment. The high watermark of this Dutch contribution can be found in the period 1680-1730. After this, and closely related to the decrease in urbanization and the social problems associated with economic decline, the Dutch Enlightenment would acquire a character all of its own, unfamiliar to other Europeans.
- Wim van den Doel, The Dutch Empire. An Essential Part of World History
Lees verder ▼In this article, a number of aspects of the history of Dutch colonialism are linked to developments in world history. A number of themes are covered by this approach, such as the consequences of the worldwide revolutions around 1800, the Cultivation System, modern imperialism, the rise of the colonial state, nationalism and decolonisation. The aim is to show that the development of specific parts of the world was linked to major, worldwide historical processes through links that arose thanks to Dutch colonialism. I further argue that knowledge of the history of Dutch colonialism is essential to an understanding of these major, worldwide processes.
- Remieg Aerts, Civil Society or Democracy? A Dutch Paradox
Lees verder ▼Since the 1990s, research has been carried out worldwide into the relationship between ‘civil society’ (an organised, self-aware society) and the formation of democracy. Dutch historians have to date shown little interest in this field of research, although the case of the Netherlands is an interesting one, both historically and in terms of current affairs. This article makes a case for the relevance of Dutch history to the debate on civil society in relation to three points. Firstly, where civil society is a phenomenon of the eighteenth and above all the nineteenth centuries, the society of the Republic demonstrates that a corporatist order can show characteristics of a civil society. Secondly, the factor of religion can be an important element in the promotion of social commitment. Thirdly, Dutch history flags up a paradox: it seems that a highly developed, civil society can rather limit than promote the need for political democracy and the recognition of an independent political sphere.
- James Kennedy & Jan Zwemer, Religion in the Modern Netherlands and the Problems of Pluralism
Lees verder ▼The religious history of the Netherlands during the last two centuries exhibits some of the same dynamics and tensions as those evidenced in neighbouring countries. This article selects from religious history three historiographical issues salient to transnational patterns. The first pertains to Dutch church-state relations in the nineteenth century, most notably a relatively early disestablishment. The second theme concerns the so-called ‘pillarization’ (verzuiling) of Dutch society, and to what extent pillarization – to the extent it is a useful concept at all – can be regarded as a quintessentially ‘Dutch’ way to manage religious pluralism. The last theme focuses on secularization, a concept which historians have used to analyse the decline of organized religion in the Netherlands, particularly the sharp decline in religious participation and adherence after 1960. Religion, however, has remained an important focus of debate in recent decades, as the Dutch sought again to renegotiate the politics of pluralism.
- Mineke Bosch, Domesticity, Pillarization and Gender. Historical Explanations for the Divergent Pattern of Dutch Women’s Economic Citizenship
Lees verder ▼Are there historical explanations for the paradox that, in a country with a reputation for being egalitarian and democratic, reasonable and tolerant, women have less economic independence compared with other countries and are under-represented in decision-making roles in society? This has often, implicitly and explicitly, been the guiding question in historical research into the gender relations in the Netherlands. Mineke Bosch takes up this question again and discusses gender-historical research that focuses on specific developments in the area of ‘work’ and ‘women’s work’, whereby the national character is of less relevance, as well as historical research in which broader lines are drawn in relation to the Dutch gender relations in comparison to other countries. In research in the second category, more so than in the first, standard explanatory concepts are used such as burgerlijkheid [bourgeois mentality] and domesticity, or pillarization. As outmoded connotations (and myths) concerning masculinity and femininity often lurk within these terms, this type of research risks degenerating into histories of nineteenth-century civilization in which gender relations were used as a basis for explanations.
- Ido de Haan, Imperialism, Colonialism and Genocide. The Dutch Case for an International History of the Holocaust
Lees verder ▼During the past three decades, the historiography of the persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands has been dominated by attempts to resolve ‘the Dutch paradox’: the contrast between the tolerant reputation of the Netherlands on the one hand, and the large numbers of Dutch Jews that perished on the other. Attempts to resolve this paradox often look for specifically Dutch characteristics, thereby neglecting factors of an international nature that had a particular impact in the Netherlands. Attention is devoted in these contribution to German imperialism, which had special ramifications for the persecution of Dutch Jews; to the implications for population policy of the colonial regime that arose in the Netherlands, and to the social compartmentalisation and propaganda that accompanied these genocidal policies. This international perspective leads to new questions for the Dutch case, while this case sheds new light on the international history of the persecution of the Jews.
- Marlou Schrover, Pillarization, Multiculturalism and Cultural Freezing. Dutch Migration History and the Enforcement of Essentialist Ideas
Lees verder ▼During the 1970s, the Netherlands introduced a set of multi-cultural policies which, through government subsidies, subsidised and promoted the otherness of migrants for several decades. Other countries also embraced multiculturalism. In the Netherlands, however, this policy represented a continuation of an older tradition of pillarization. Multiculturalism was not pillarization in new clothes, however, although there was a continuity of the underlying ideas, as this article will show. This led to a great deal of enthusiasm for multiculturalism, and subsequently to great disappointment, without it ever becoming clear what exactly the aim of the policy was and how its success or failure could be measured. The central thesis of this article is that the successive development of pillarization and multiculturalism in the Netherlands has led to a reinforcement of essentialist ideas concerning migrants and their descendants, as well as a freezing of ideas on ‘the’ Dutch culture. This double freezing then made adaptation difficult or impossible.
- Henk te Velde, The International Relevance of Dutch History: Closing Comments
Lees verder ▼The contributions in this issue discuss the question of the relevance of Dutch history to an international public. The authors wish to avoid ‘exceptionalism’, but point – with the exception of the piece that examines the Holocaust – specifically to the particular in the Dutch past, focusing thereby on evergreen themes such as the Golden Age, the Dutch colonial empire and the role of religion. A great deal of attention is hereby devoted to the long perspective and the peculiar nature of Dutch ‘civil society’. The aim is not so much to focus on what is unique to the Netherlands – and certainly not to hold up the Netherlands as an example – but rather to attempt to explain the Netherlands on the basis of general issues drawn from historiographical debates. In this sense, the yardstick applied is the international world. Another striking feature of the contributions is that an analysis that takes a longer view – path dependency, ‘cultural freezing’ (Schrover) and traditions – is back with a vengeance.