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Dutch Wednesday 2010

Programma 2010

Narodnost: a Western invention, prof. dr. Joep Leerssen, 24.02.2010

Prof. dr. Joep Leerssen, University of Amsterdam

Under Czar Alexander III, the idea of a Russian nationality ("narodnost") became one of the stated foundations of the state (alongside "orthodoxy" and "autocracy"). As is well known, this emphasis on Russian national identity as the official identity of the state created tensions in territories such as Ukraine, the Baltic and Finland. 

Neither the policy nor the ensuing tensions were peculliar to the case of Russia. In my lecture, I trace the importance of national culture in state centralization from the French Revolution to the end of World War I. I pay specific attention to the spread of this ideology across Europe, and across different systems of government, as an example of 'Cultural Transfer".
Joep Leerssen is an expert on the history of European nationalism from 1760 to 1860. He also gives lectures on modern European literature. In 2007 students chose him as the teacher of the year. In 2008 he received the Spinoza price. 

40 Years of Fundamental Particle Physics, prof. dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, 05.05.2010

Prof. dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, Utrecht University, KNAW member, Nobel price winner

In 1999, together with Martinus Veltman, Gerard ‘ t Hooft received the Nobel price in physics for obtaining a consistent description of fundamental particles as they occur in the standard model. Not only is Gerard ‘t Hooft still active as an international top researcher, but also as professor he is involved into the Physics and Astronomy bachelor program and the master program in Theoretical Physics. He travels all over the world giving lectures, not only for scientists, but also for wide audience to rise its interest in physics. In the Netherlands he regularly visits secondary schools and takes part in public discussions, e.g. science cafes, and in scientific programs on radio and television. 

“Nobel price winner is actually a profession”, ‘t Hooft says jokingly. The nucleus of an atom is controlled by different species of subnuclear, elementary particles. Since the early 1970s, physicists have learned to look at them differently, new theoretical approaches were found, and numerous ingenious experiments were performed to improve our understanding. This resulted in a very precise description of the forces between these particles, and the ways in which they react upon these forces. The notion of "symmetry" plays a central role in this. This description is called "the Standard Model". Even though we know that this Standard Model cannot be exactly right, it turned out to be extremely difficult to detect phenomena that do not agree with it. New experiments and observations are being devised, notably the Large Hadron Collider, LHC, a multi billion dollar international laboratory that should bring us one step further.

Hoe Nederlands is Nederland? Prof. dr. Herman Pleij, 08.09.2010

Prof. dr. Herman Pleij, University of Amsterdam

Prof. dr. Herman Pleij is hoogleraar in middeleeuwse Nederlandse literatuur aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam. Hij is in het bijzonder geinteresseerd in populaire literatuur en cultuur, de betekenis van de vroege boekdrukpers, de ontwikkeling van bourgeois idealen en de Nederlandse culturele identiteit over het algemeen. Begin jaren ’90 maakte hij een reeks televisieaflevering, genaamd Sprekend over de middeleeuwen, dat ook als boek is verschenen. Daarnaast schrijft in tijdschriften over cultuur in het algemeen.

Op het moment doet Pleij onderzoek naar de grote 16e eeuwse Antwerpse dichtster Anna Bijns, werkt hij aan het tweede deel van een 7-delige nieuwe geschiedenis van de Nederlandse literatuur, schrijft hij een boek over het literaire en culturele leven in Amsterdam voor de Gouden Eeuw en schrijft hij een roman over Willem, Prins van Oranje. Het Nederlandse 'calvinisme' als typering van huidige collectieve mentaliteiten is van Belgische origine. Dit Hollandse zelfbeeld heeft zich vanaf de veertiende eeuw ontwikkeld in een Vlaams - Brabantse stadscultuur. Voor jezelf opkomen, onafhankelijk zijn, individualistisch opereren op basis van hard werken, matigheid in alles en vooral een allesoverheersend gevoel voor pragmatiek vormen de kernen van een burgerlijke koopmansmoraal, gegroeid in de steden van de zuidelijke Nederlanden. Die is op export gegaan naar het noorden ten tijde van de Opstand en daar verder uitgegroeid tot wat ook wel bekend staat als 'poldermodel'. De laatmiddeleeuwse literatuur heeft bij de ontwikkeling van deze ethiek een voorname rol gespeeld.  

The past and future of journalism, Prof.dr. Huub Wijfjes, 06.10.2010

Prof.dr. Huub Wijfjes, University of Groningen

Huub Wijfjes (1956) is media historian. For more than twenty years he was active in the academic training of journalists at Groningen University. Since 2009 he is professor in the History of Radio and Television at the department of Media Studies of University of Amsterdam. He has written extensively on all sorts of topics in media history, especially on the history of journalism and broadcasting.

Like all modern professions journalism is trying to catch up with the modern, and in much respects revolutionary technological innovation of our time. To say it in other words: journalism is trying to redefine itself in a world dominated by interactive new media technology. This is a worldwide process connected with discussions about what journalism should be, especially in relation to politics and society.

A glance at the history of media shows that journalism should be a profession creating order in the overwhelming stream of information and knowledge that is available in everyday life. It was, and still is, an important task with huge responsibilities for the way in which things work in society. All sorts of solutions have therefore been invented to make journalism a responsible profession. In some countries, like the Soviet Union, journalism was made part of official ideology or the political system. In the western world, where press freedom developed as a professional ideology, journalism established itself around values like objectivity, independence, credibility and truthfulness. In the Netherlands a mixed system developed of political control by parties and independent professional values.

Modern media technology raises questions about these values. Is there still a place for objective and independent journalism in the modern media world that is increasingly dominated by interactive en convergent media content produced in a commercial environment? What will be the future of the newspaper and of public service broadcasting and which lessons can media history teach us in this respect? These topics will be discussed with a focus on the debate in Western Europe in general and the Netherlands in particular. 

Who owns the North Pole? Prof. dr. Louwrens Hacquebord, 03.11.2010

Prof. dr. Louwrens Hacquebord, University of Groningen

Louwrens Hacquebord is professor of Arctic and Antarctic Studies at, and director of the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He has been vice-president (2000-2008) and still is Dutch council member of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), has been member, vice chair and chair of the national Polar Research Committee for years and member of the International Polar Heritage Committee of ICOMOS. His research has largely been focused on the resource development in polar areas in which context archaeological excavations and surveys were carried out on Spitsbergen and other polar regions.

In 2007 a Russian Flag was placed on the seafloor at the North Pole to mark the Russian United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) territorial claim on the slope of the continental shelf in the Arctic ocean. This activity drew the attention of the world to the North Pole region and the resources expected to be found there. It also made clear that a new race for the natural resources in the North region was at the point of beginning. This lecture will discuss the relation between climate change, resource development and geopolitics. It will place recent political events in a historical contеxt and will finish by considering some future political developments.