Discovering the Dutch: On Culture and Society of the Netherlands

Edited by Emmeline Besamusca and Jaap Verheul

Discovering the Dutch: On Culture and Society of the Netherlands

Edited by Emmeline Besamusca and Jaap Verheul

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

352 pages | 60 color plates | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Paper $49.95 ISBN: 9789089647924 Published February 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
What are the most salient and sparkling facts about the Netherlands that those interested in its history need to know? This updated edition of Discovering the Dutch tackles the heart of the question of Dutch identity through a number of essential themes that span the culture, history, and society of the Netherlands. Running the gamut from the Randstad to the Dutch Golden Age, from William of Orange to Anne Frank, this volume uses a series of vignettes written by academic experts in their fields to address historical and contemporary topics such as immigration, tolerance, and the struggle against water, as well as issues of culture—painting, literature, architecture, and design among them.

Note for the Revised Edition


Emmeline Besamusca and Jaap Verheul

Neither Wooden Legs nor Wooden Shoes:

Elusive Encounters with Dutchness

Wiljan van den Akker


1 Citizens, Coalitions, and the Crown

Emmeline Besamusca

Queen Máxima: Enchanting the Monarchy

Binnenhof: Traditional Heart of a Modern Democracy

2 Politics between Accommodation and Commotion

Ido de Haan

Pillarization: Pacification and Segregation

Pim Fortuyn: Libertarian Populist

3 Economy of the Polder

Jan Luiten van Zanden

Bulbs, Flowers, and Cheese: The Agricultural Face of an Urban Economy

Royal Dutch Shell: Corporate Legacy of Colonialism

4 Dilemmas of the Welfare State

Lex Heerma van Voss

Labor Productivity: Balancing Work and Leisure

Pensions: Well-Deserved and Well-Funded

5 Randstad Holland

Ben de Pater and Rob van der Vaart

The Amsterdam Canal Ring: Urban Heritage of the Golden Age

The Port of Rotterdam: Logistical Hub of Europe

6 Distinctive within the Global Fold?

Paul Schnabel

The Elfstedentocht: Beating the Forces of Nature

Sinterklaas: A Controversial Morality Tale


7 From the Periphery to the Center

Marco Mostert

The Roman Limes: A Cultural Meeting Place

Hebban Olla Vogala: The Beginnings of Literature

8 The Golden Age

Maarten Prak

The Tulip Bubble: Horticultural Speculation

William of Orange: Founding Father

9 A Tradition of Tolerance

Wijnand Mijnhardt

Hugo Grotius: Founder of Enlightenment Thought

Baruch de Spinoza: Philosopher of Liberty

10 From Colonial Past to Postcolonial Present

Gert Oostindie

Slavery: Recognizing a Black Page in Dutch History

Indonesian Independence: Silenced Warfare, Hesitant Reconciliation

11 The Second World War: The Dilemmas of Occupation

Christ Klep

Ausweis: The Dangers of Identity Registration

Anne Frank: Icon of the Holocaust

12 Religious Diversification or Secularization?

David Bos

The Portuguese Synagogue: Monument of Asylum

Mosques in the Polder: Corner Stones or Stumbling Blocks?

Arts & Culture

13 The Making of Rembrandt and Van Gogh

Ghislain Kieft and Quirine van der Steen

Vermeer: Interior Fantasies

Mondrian: Is this Art?

14 Style and Lifestyle in Architecture

Rob Dettingmeijer

The Rietveld Schröder House: Icon of Architecture for the Modern Age

The Royal Tropical Institute: Architectural Symbol of Colonialism

15 Literature, Authors, and Public Debate

Frans Ruiter and Wilbert Smulders

Multatuli: Anti-Colonial Literature

The Assault:Writing the Second World War

16 Three Feminist Waves

Rosemarie Buikema and Iris van der Tuin

Joke Smit: Mobilizing Female Discontent

Dolle Mina: Second-Wave Feminism and the Media

17 The Double Bind of Television

Sonja de Leeuw

Broadcasting Guides: Mediating Identities

Utopia: Selling a Window on the Future

18 Global Dutch

Marjo van Koppen

Afrikaans: Creolized Heritage

Frisian: Acknowledging Linguistic Pluralism

Contemporary Issues

19 Living with Water

Rob van der Vaart

The Beemster Polder: Masterpiece of Designed Reclamation

The Great Flood: Inducement for the Delta Works

20 Excellence and Egalitarianism in Higher Education

Jeroen Torenbeek and Jan Veldhuis

Aletta Jacobs: Emancipation through Education

University College Utrecht: Challenging Academic Traditions

21 Immigration and Diversity

Han Entzinger

Indonesian Rijsttafel: Sharing the Table

Ahmed Aboutaleb: Mayor of a Diverse City

22 Legal Culture

Wibo van Rossum

Coffeeshops: Controlled Permissiveness

Smoking Ban: Between Health and Liberty

23 Idealism and Self-Interest in the World

Duco Hellema

Hollanditis: The Politics of Pacifism

Srebrenica: A Catastrophic Peace Mission

24 In Foreign Eyes

Jaap Verheul

Hans Brinker: Morality Behind the Dikes

Frau Antje: Ambassador of Dutchness


About the Authors



Review Quotes
Cynthia P. Schneider, former U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands
“Like the paintings of Holland’s Golden Age, the Dutch themselves have many layers of meaning. Discovering the Dutch unravels the mysteries and contradictions of these people, to whom we owe the foundations of western principles of democracy and justice. Did you know that Hans Brinker was more American than Dutch? Want to understand how the Dutch Calvinists literally bet their houses on a tulip bulb? Read this book for these and other fascinating insights.”
Jonathan Israel, author of The Dutch Republic
“Judicious, useful, expert and concise—it would be hard to imagine a better guide to the cultural and historical reality of Dutch society today.”
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