Category Archives: 2012

Nummer 1/2012


Feesten van nostalgie en vooruitgang: de representatie van het stedelijke landschap in Vlaamse provinciesteden 1837-1958

Staging urban history:
Festivities and the creation of historical townscapes in Belgium (1860-1958)
Parades were an intrinsic part of ur­ban life in Belgium between the mid­dle of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Scholars have used these fes­tivities time and again to probe into nationalism and the growing politi­cal tensions. However, much less at-tention has been paid to the relation between these parades and the town­scape itself. This paper tries to fill this gap by exploring how urban festivi­ties can unveil the differing ways in which small-town populations coped with the dilemma between moder­nization and preservation (or even creation) of a historical townscape. Sometimes parades were simply felt to enhance or complete the existing medieval outlook of the town (e.g. the age-old Procession of the Peni­tents in Furnes). More frequently ho-wever, these urban festivities seemed to negotiate between history and modernization, as they were often held simultaneously for the inaugu­ration of infrastructural works (like quays, bridges or railways) and in­terventions enhancing the historical townscape (such as the restoration of monuments). This reflection on the historical townscape was further ma­terialized in floats portraying urban
monuments, the temporary recon­struction of demolished buildings such as town gates, the selective il­lumination of certain buildings and town quarters, and the routes of the parades. As such these festivities re­assured the inhabitants and made them come to terms with the moder­nization of their hometown.



Snoeien aan de wortels van de Nederlandse identiteit. Ontwikkeling en duiding van historiserend overschilderde meubels

Trimming the roots of Dutch Identity
Discovery and assessment of pseudo-historic painted furniture
Painted furniture, together with regi­onal costumes, play an important role in the identity of Dutch communi­ties in the 17th -19th centuries. From about 1870 onwards, historic societies, artists, antique dealers and museums have collected painted furniture as relicts of the pre-industrial material culture of our ancestors. However, the age, provenance and authenticity of these pieces have never been re­searched scientifically. In the course of a PhD research project virtually all painted furniture in Dutch mu­seum collections have been studied. Wood type, tool marks, nails, hard­ware, paint stratigraphy, evidence of use, restoration and alteration were assessed. On top of this the binding media and pigments on some pieces were analysed, Röntgen and infrared pictures were taken and dendrochro­nology techniques applied.
Among the pieces that were supposed to date from the 17th or 18th century, 63 turned out to have a pseudo-histo­ric early 20th century decoration. In fact the history of the majority of the­se objects couldn’t be traced back any further than World War II. During and after the war a great many formerly unknown objects without a clear ow­nership appeared in auctions. In the flow of objects at the time these pie­ces did not raise any eyebrows. On the contrary, after the devastation of the war they were embraced as rare survivors of the ancestral material culture of farmers and fishermen. In fact these pieces rather illustrate the nature of the antique trade at that time and the material culture of the elite who attended these auctions loo­king for tokens of Dutch identity.



Etnowiskunde: een maatschappelijke en wetenschappelijke keuze

Ethnomatics: Political and Scientific Programme
Working with Navajo Indian infor­mants in Arizona, USA we became aware of the capabilities of children and adults to find their way in vast and clearly ‘chaotic’ canyons. One thing we did was describe what peo­ple actually did and said about their ways to find the way back home in such contexts. A second one was to use these data in order to build a cur­riculum book for a bicultural school on the Navajo reservation. We start from this example to ask what the political choices are, which we con-
front when working with such mate­rial: how much mathematics (or is it Mathematics) is needed in daily life? And what mathematics should we promote or develop, without beco­ming colonialist again? In section 2 we discuss the meaning and the sta­tus of ethnomathematics, proposing that it would be the generic category which allows for a more systematic and comparative study of the whole domain of mathematical practices. In section 3 we introduce the concept of multimathemacy (after multiliter­acy) to discuss the political agenda of ethnomathematics. We argue that multimathemacy should be the basis of the curriculum in order to guaran­tee optimal survival value for every learner.



Category: 2012

Nummer 2/2012


Geschiedschrijving van het evidente. Het verhaal van de koelkast

Summary: A history of the evident: the Story of the Refrigerator
Nowadays a refrigerator figures as an unspectacular and banal dimension in everyday life. In fact, it has been taken for granted by most of us. But since it was introduced in the last century it has affected (post-war) consumer society, changed lifestyles and social relations (e.g. between partners), etc. Furthermore, the refrigerator has had direct implications on how food is bought, preserved, prepared, and eaten.
In this essay several themes are dealt with. The basic assumption is that the refrigerator not only occupies a central place in our household but that it is also an active medium in changing customs. The introduction of one single technological object and its significance as regards e.g. food preparation and preservation are discussed. The way that these themes were researched (and the discourse created around it), especially in Belgian literature, is also addressed.



De ‘Nederlandsheid’ van Nederland: een nieuw project aan het Meertens Instituut

Summary: The ‘Dutchness’ of the Dutch: a new project at the Meertens Institute
In September 2012 the Meertens Institute will start a new research project focusing on the rediscovery of ‘Dutchness’: all the recent constructions (political, intellectual, artistic or commercial) in which what is felt as ‘typically’ or ‘authentically’ Dutch are again promoted, celebrated or commercially exploited. Partly related to the initiatives of several

Dutch governments to strengthen the nation after 9/11 and the politically­inspired murders of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh. Many other constructions of ‘Dutchness’ may be found in intellectual, artistic and commercial circles, including those of the fashion industry and the creative industry.
Interestingly, similar developments have been observed in e.g. Germany, England (with its new constructions of ‘Englishness’), Denmark (‘Danskhed’) and a couple of other European countries. Ironically, they all seem to introduce new forms of cultural essentialism, despite the efforts of many anthropologists, ethnologists and other social scientists to fight such essentialism both in society and in their own way of thinking. In the report the project’s background and its main features are sketched.



Naar een fluïde benadering van dovencultuut en dovengeschiedenis. enkele reflecties over de rol van sportorganisaties voor doven in het ontstaan van een dovencultuur in België

Summary: The emergence of deaf culture in Belgium: Reflections on the Role of Sports Clubs
Disability culture and disability identity have occupied a more prominent place in society since the disabled no longer accept being treated as medically depend­ent, destitute or even pathological persons.
In Belgium the awareness of the specific identity of the deaf has been growing since the turn of the last century. Inspiredbythe French scholar Séguillon, the author researched the role of sports. He questioned the idea of a generalized identity of the deaf by focusing on particular differences and internal frictions. He also wanted to fathom their resistance as regards the normalizing procedures in education and in society at large.
His historical inquiry leads to the suggestion that the current disability theory is in need of a less rigid approach. Emancipation cannot be achieved without a firm, stable and encompassing identity and culture.



Category: 2012

Nummer 3/2012


De herinnering blijft. Memoria en materiële cultuur in de monastieke ruimte van Clairefontaine (B)

Summary: A place to remember. Memoria, material culture and monastic space in the Cistercian nunnery of Clairefontaine (B)
The Cistercian nunnery of Clairefon­taine was founded in the 13th century by the Counts of Luxembourg. During the 13th and the 14th century the abbey served as the graveyard for this dy­nasty and became a lieu de mémoire in the collective memory, reminding of the success of an elite family that formed the basis for the political and cultural identity in Luxembourg. The long history of the site illustrates the way this memory was perceived, maintained and rewritten by various social groups with different social aspirations. Monastic space and (im) material culture were altered and structured accordingly.



Gedenken op de plek des onheils. Bermmonumenten als materiële uitdrukking van veranderende rouwcultuur

Summary: Commemorating on the place of disaster
Roadside memorials as material expressions of changing mourning culture
Over the past decades commemorat­ing the victims of an untimely or un­natural death in the public domain has become more self-evident, in Eu­rope as well as elsewhere in the world. Evidence of this ‘new public mourn­ing’ (Walter 2008) is to be found in an increasing number of roadside memorials in urban areas and along countryside roads, especially on the scene of the disaster.
Ethnographic research (in the Neth­erlands) reveals the special character of these memorials: in the absence of the body of the deceased and on a particular place not designated by the authorities for this purpose, they visualize the fundamental rupture in the life of the victim as well as of the bereaved. Furthermore, the memorial has a physical and social effect upon its environment. The media and the memorial itself help to understand this new way mourning.
The power of roadside memorials should not be underestimated, which explains the growing number of these memorials.



De dood en de dingen

Summary: Death and the Material World
When we deal with the reality of dy­ing, grief and remembrance, objects and places always offer inspiration to better understand life, death and hereafter: human thoughts and ac­tions have an impact on things and vice versa. In fact, the study of death and loss is a study of the relation­ship between man and his material environment, since the experience of death always exposes and transforms evident ways of dealing with objects and spaces. They may symbolically replace the body that is no longer present.
The historical, anthropological and archaeological contributions to this issue show how, in the Low Countries and in the former Dutch colony Su­riname, individuals and groups used to give or still give meaning to loss and death by dealing with objects and spaces. The articles have a common performative concept of ‘ritual’ and range – in terms of space – from road­side memorials to landscapes, official memory sites and private ones.



“Op ‘t bloedig oorlogsveld, is ied’re man een held”. Hoe kinderen het slagveld verbeelden en beleefden aan het eind van de negentiende eeuw

Summary: Children imagining and experiencing the battlefield at the end of the nineteenth century
Battlefields occupy a peculiar place in a modern nation’s history and imagi­nation. At the end of the nineteenth century patriotic duty leading to a heroic death was an important ele­ment in the romantic discourse in Western Europe. Waterloo was one of the battlefields that explicitly evoked the national past. Waterloo was not only a place for remembrance but also – specifically for boys – a place for reflection on their own future as citizens and potential protectors of the nation, prepared to shed their blood as their brave forefathers had done before. Therefore, the national soil and its buried heroes did no lon­ger belong to the past, but rather to children’s present. Imagining graves of heroes and children in a gruesome battlefield landscape undoubtedly produced an emotional and political reflex. The premature passing away of an innocent child changed into a patriotic duty of shedding one’s blood willingly. Metaphors of the beating heart spilling vital blood and espe­cially the kinship between the genera­tions of members of the same nation were employed in different contexts in order to represent the battlefield as a way to experience the past and to keep the fallen heroes ‘alive’ in the na­tion’s present and future.



De prijs van de dood. Transnationalisering en commercialisering van Surinaams-Creoolse doodsrituelen

Summary: The price of death. Changing mortuary rituals and transnational care in the Surinamese-creole diaspora
This article depicts contemporary trends in Surinamese-Creole death culture by examining how the sup­ply of commercial services affects the ways the dead are cared for and remembered. The ethnographic ana-lysis will focus on transnational fu­nerals and other rites of passage, and the question how care is materialized under conditions of increased mobil­ity, commercialization and societal changes. As recent trends point to a progressive commercialization, ma­terialization and commodification of Surinamese-Creole death, mourning and burial, the article will emphasize the ways this affects values, meanings and rituals, and, furthermore, how it shapes and transforms relationships between the living and the dead as well as between surviving relatives mutually. In so doing, the article will question the implications of mobility and migration with regard to dying, death and mourning. In particular, it discusses whether or to what extent funerals and other rituals, within a transnational context, continue to act as occasions for reaffirming ties and a sense of belonging or as events that express friction and conflict instead of cohesion, solidarity and harmony.



Category: 2012