Fans are wrongly stigmatised (video)

In Culture
Friday, 05 October 2012 10:29

Contrary to popular belief, people who are a part of fan culture are not lonely, depressed or escapist. The opposite is true: such people tend to be creative and very social. Nicolle Lamerichs studies the different phenomena of these fan cultures for her PhD research.

Every day biking versus cycle racing

In Culture
Tuesday, 18 September 2012 09:05

Last weekend has seen the start of the prestigious Road World Championships in South Limburg. But in contrast to everyday biking, cycle racing has never acquired the status of a national symbol in the Netherlands, according to the historian Manuel Stoffers. "Everyone rides a bike, from Prime Minister Rutte to your average Joe."

The role and power of civil servants in the EU, UN and NATO

Could you describe your research?
I am interested in why states voluntarily delegate tasks in the area of international security to organisations such as the EU, NATO and the United Nations. Traditionally, sovereignty is held in high regard. Your present ally can become your enemy tomorrow, so to speak. Even so, thousands of civil servants work for these kinds of organisations. What exactly do they contribute? Under what conditions do member states delegate these kinds of tasks? And why does NATO have such a heavily manned headquarters with fifteen thousand staff while the UN, which deploys as many troops, does not?

At the age of 10, Hans van Hall wondered why the Diepstraat in the picturesque town of Eijsden was so wide. Fifty years later he answers this question himself in his PhD dissertation, ‘Eijsden, een vrijheid met Luikse stadsrechten’ (‘Eijsden: Liberty with Liège City Rights’). “In the Middle Ages, this village had its own justice system. That was unique in the region we now know as South Limburg.”

They sit companionably side by side; supervisor Louis Berkvens and PhD candidate Hans van Hall. Both in their 60s, both at the end of first-rate scholarly careers. There are few signs of a typical student–teacher hierarchy in this relationship. “Absolutely not”, the professor says immediately. “We’ve worked on a great book together for six years; on a dissertation with more social relevance than the outside world initially suspected. And it’s been unlike any other PhD project I’ve worked on. Most of the time I spent on it was my own spare time. We usually met at some nice place in the city or at home with a cup of coffee. Pleasantly illegal, I’m tempted to say.”

A plea for multilingualism

In Culture
Friday, 22 June 2012 11:59

Leonie Cornips, endowed professor of Linguistic Culture in Limburg, would like to set up a prize for parents who raise their children in the regional dialect. If the Limburg dialect is to survive, people must continue to speak it. What’s more, research shows that speaking a regional dialect does not have a negative impact on the Dutch language, as was once thought. On the contrary: children who speak both Dutch and a regional dialect from a young age learn certain linguistic phenomena of Dutch faster than children who only speak Dutch. According to Cornips, this is just one of the many advantages of multilingualism.

“The people are running wild!”

In Society
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 12:35

The recent display of anger by citizens is testament to the success of democracy, according to Sjaak Koenis, professor of Social Philosophy. “Oh come on”, says Lies Wesseling, professor of Arts and Culture, with a sneer. “Populism is mostly based on self-sustaining rage.” Here, they roll up their sleeves for a debate on emotivism, the role of the elite and the emancipatory value of populism.

"The crisis will clear the air"

In Society
Friday, 17 February 2012 13:38

The 20th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty recently came and went, but was there really cause to celebrate? What’s next for the European Union (EU)? Sophie Vanhoonacker and Thomas Christiansen, professors at the newly founded Maastricht Centre for European Governance, are optimistic. “The crisis calls for strong decisions to be made.”

Undermining the motherhood ideal

In Culture
Wednesday, 15 February 2012 08:45

Having and raising a child is a wonderful experience. And thanks to birth control, as a woman that choice is entirely yours to make. Life is yours for the making and the world is yours for the taking. This, in a nutshell, is the current ideal of motherhood in the Netherlands. That first-time motherhood also comes with its share of difficulties is less openly discussed. Except in literature, which often revolves around topics that run counter to the ideal, such as infanticide and infertility. In her PhD dissertation De idylle voorbij (Beyond the ideal), Josje Weusten analyses the normative ideal of motherhood and its portrayal in Dutch literature from 1980 to 2010.

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