Research projects

The Meertens Institute studies and documents language and culture in the Netherlands as well as Dutch language and culture throughout the world. We focus on the phenomena that shape everyday life in society. In the current political climate, language and culture are considered to be hallmark contributors to collective identity. The Meertens Institute, which researches the “Dutch case” from a comparative and international perspective, would also like to contribute to the social debate by clarifying and providing nuance to the role of language and culture in social processes. This research plan summarizes the research ambitions of the Meertens Institute for the years 2018-2023. In 2020 it was supplemented with an update to the research plan 2020-2023.

View the finished research projects 2018-2023 here.

Industrial farming in the Netherlands

Dutch pig farming practices posit urgent questions concerning animal subjectivity, animal welfare, environmental problems and precarious human and animal living and working conditions. The widespread of industrial farming as the dominant model of ‘modern’ farming shapes specific ways in which animals are made to live and die, and the forms...

Polifonia

The English version of this research project will appear soon, for now it is only available in Dutch. We are sorry for the inconvenience. Hoe kunnen we de verbindingen tussen muziek, mensen, plaatsen en gebeurtenissen van de zestiende eeuw tot heden digitaal ontsluiten? In dit onderzoeksproject ontwikkelen we onder meer...

Verbeelding in transities

The English version of this research project will appear soon, for now it is only available in Dutch. We are sorry for the inconvenience. Hoe moeten we nu en in de toekomst omgaan met complexe transitieopgaven zoals de energietransitie, de voedseltransitie, klimaatadaptatie en interne veiligheid? Deze kwesties vragen om een...

MAKEBELIEF

This project is researching how religion is ‘imagineered’ in religious theme parks in different countries. Which representations of religion are conveyed and how? What are the underlying agendas and how do the parks influence the emotional and political significance of religion and heritage? The MAKEBELIEF project is analysing how people...

INREACH

Which knowledge and perspectives are missing from our archives? The pilot project INREACH takes a critical look at our collections and collection methods. The leading idea is that what we do not read or hear also constitutes an "archive. Therefore, the project is collaborating with experts by experience from different...

The traveling image: the photo of captain Broos

There is only one known photograph of Captain Broos (1821-1880), one of the most significant Surinamese Maroon leaders. This project uses ethnographic methods to study the social life of this photograph in the Netherlands, Ghana, and Suriname, and contributes to research on the power of images in the politics of...

Cow-human Interaction

Towards an Animal Turn in Sociolinguistics. Understanding the dairy cow’s interaction with humans and with each other This project is exploring the social interactions of dairy cows. In this way it is proposing that the perspective of (non-human) animals should be incorporated into the field of sociolinguistics. Dairy cows have...

Botanical Records Through a Social Lens: Exploring Bias and Perception in Historical Citizen Science

This research project brings together contemporary and historical citizen-science knowledge on the subject of botanical life in the Netherlands. Through this research we are enriching the data on biodiversity in the Netherlands and learning more about the relationship between humans and nature over the years. This project combines the Meertens...

Who is the troll?

This project focuses on developing a game that teaches secondary-school students and senior citizens how artificial intelligence works. Participants take on the role of moderator in an online discussion and can enlist the help of a computer algorithm. In this way they discover the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

PRESERVARE

In the period between 1600 and 1800, food conservation techniques such as fermenting, smoking, and pickling were crucial to the globalization of trade and ensuring food supplies. Food preservation thus played an important role in the economic and demographic growth of European trade centres. Yet we still know little about...

Rethinking the role of water in climate robust landscapes

This project aims at setting up a transdisciplinary study to establish how land and water use practices are interacting with landscape scale biodiversity, water quality, and society. The project starts from current conditions and incorporates future scenarios of climate and societal conditions up to 2050. Water plays a central role...

A planetary food commons for healthy and sustainable diets

To protect human and planetary health, we urgently need to reform our highly unsustainable global food system. The “food as commons” approach offers a radical revisioning of food policy through a key paradigm shift: from food as an object for sale, to food as a global public good, or global...

VITALGREENHOUSE. Greenhouses as Vital Landscapes: Sustainability, Relationality, and the Future of Food

The project, which has been awarded 1.5 million euros for five years, analyses sustainability transitions in European horticultural greenhouses in relation to mobility, particularly flows of migrant workers, the circulation of non-humans as collaborators or pests, and technological interventions and innovations. This project asks: how is sustainability being conceived and...

Cat-human interactions

In this research project we analyze interactions between domestic cats and the humans they share a household with. How do cats make clear that they want something? And how do cats and their humans establish fixed routines? Cats express meaning with a plethora of physical postures, movements and vocalizations. And...

Odeuropa

The English version of this research project will appear soon, for now it is only available in Dutch. We are sorry for the inconvenience. De coronacrisis heeft voelbaar gemaakt hoe belangrijk de rol is die reuk speelt in het dagelijks leven: niet alleen is geurverlies een van de symptomen van...

The use of language and culture in the construction of local identity

This subproject investigates a) the use of language (dialect, regiolect, Dutch) and culture (ritual, festivals, gestures) in the construction of local identity in the Netherlands; b) the contexts in which local identity is experienced and conveyed; and c) the actors involved and their audiences. In doing so, we investigate what...

The Dutch Folktale Database & The Dutch Song Database

The Dutch Folktale Database, which was started in 1994, contains a wealth of folktales (fairy tales, riddles, traditional legends, jokes, contemporary legends) from the Middle Ages until the present day. Each story includes metadata such as the location where it was told, the recorded date, the narrator, and, if possible,...

Folktale repertoires and narrative culture

This long running project deals with a multitude of narrative expressions throughout time: from the performance of medieval tales, the formal structure of fairy tales and testimonies of conversion, the influence of 17th and 18th century newspapers, almanacs and jest books on the (re-)oralization of stories, ethnic storytelling, until the...

ISEBEL

The acronym stands for Intelligent Search Engine for Belief Legends. The project is an NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) Trans-Atlantic Digging into Data project which involves collaboration with Tim Tangherlini of UCLA and Christoph Schmitt and Holger Meyer of the Wossidlo Institute and the University of Rostock. In the...

Commemorative culture and new public rituals

In the Netherlands as well as elsewhere in the world, an extensive commemorative culture regarding “public death” has come about over the past few decades. This commemorative culture involves violent death in the public domain as a result of traffic casualties, violence or national disasters (MH17), as well as the...

New and contested forms of religiosity

This project incorporates a differentiated field of religious expressions in the past and present. For one part, the research focuses on phenomena such as pilgrimage and appearances and cults around (holy) entities. For another part, the focus is on new, although sometimes implicit, forms of religiosity, spirituality, and ritual practices....

HERILIGION: The heritagization of religion and sacralization of heritage in contemporary Europe

This European research project, funded by the HERA program, seeks to understand the consequences of the transformation of religious sites, objects and practices into heritage. Particularly, the project focuses on the impact of practices of heritage-formation on religious constituencies, on the role of various management regimes; and on potential paradoxes...

Populism, social media, and religion

The Dutch PVV (Freedom Party) and the German Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident) do not easily fit into conceptual categories such as left/right or religious/secular and publish few programmatic texts. How, then, can we better understand these populist movements? In the project “Populism, social media and...

Intangible heritage and museums

As a result of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was ratified by the Netherlands in 2012, various actors such as government institutions, “heritage professionals”, heritage bearers, and museums, interfere in the preservation of everyday culture. They form an (emotional) network that is determined...

The new rural. Material expressions of countryside cultures

The “rural”, a topic currently receiving ample attention, concerns (collective) imagined representations of the countryside and concrete, everyday cultural expressions, as well as the interactions between the two. Drastic changes in the countryside have resulted in new perceptions of everyday rural lifestyles and a wide variety of associated images. The...

Visibility and invisibility: color blindness, race, and the power of images in the Netherlands

Virtual networks and the images that circulate within them are not only part of everyday life, but they also influence to a significant extent the way how people understand themselves in relation to others. In this project, Markus Balkenhol investigates the role of images in constructions of identity in the...

Black Movements: black Dutch in the Atlantic world

As part of the joint research program of the Humanities Cluster entitled “Impact of Circulation”, Markus Balkenhol researches social movements for the civil rights of black Dutch”. Specifically, he researches the influence of international black movements (the Civil Rights Movement, BlackLivesMatter, Rhodes Must Fall) on organizations of Dutch people of...

Taalportaal

The Taalportaal (taalportaal.org) provides freely accessible, authoritative grammatical descriptions of languages like Dutch, Frisian, and Afrikaans for scientific purposes. The Meertens Institute is responsible for the production and maintenance of the Dutch component. In the upcoming research period, several missing components will be added to the field of syntax, including...

Maritime and continental orientation

Increased maritime circulation is not only reflected in material and economic history, but also in linguistic history. This linguistic history has been fossilized in similarities and differences in current language varieties: maritime isoglosses. We will research this using Dutch and German varieties. Older and newer connections exist side by side...

Language dynamics in the Dutch Golden Age

Within the language dynamics of the Dutch Golden Age, we observe a type of language variation that has rarely been addressed before: variation within individual language users (intra-author variation). The famous author P.C. Hooft, for instance, uses the Middle Dutch way to express negation as well as a modern alternative....

Surinamese Dutch: a broad, in-depth exploration

Surinamese Dutch has not yet been researched in depth. It varies widely, which is associated with the fact that Surinamese Dutch is a part of a continuum that extends between Sranan Tongo, the primary creole language in Suriname, and European standard Dutch. Within the Surinamese Dutch linguistic community, the variation...

Gender marking in Dutch dialects

There is a great deal of variation and change in how Dutch and other dialects mark gender. For instance, the Brabant dialects originally have a three-gender system, but the current situation for these dialects demonstrates substantial variation on this point. Language contact in our dynamic and rapidly changing society has...

Dutch beyond the Low Countries

We take initial steps in mapping out Dutch beyond the Low Countries. For this project, a workshop was requested from the Lorentz Center and subsequently granted and contacts will be established with various researchers who want to collaborate on research into the language use of Dutch communities in Australia and...