The Relevance of Dutch History, or: Much in Little? Reflections on the Practive of History in the Netherlands
Keywords:Identity, Cultural history
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.
This article is part of the special issue 'The International Relevance of Dutch History'.
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