Workshop: Water (un)Safety and Concepts of Nature


21 March 2019
Vrije Universiteit, Main Building, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam
Room: HG 15A-33 (15th floor)

As humans we have an ambiguous relationship with water. Water is one of our most precious resources and a valued means of communication. Yet it can also be a fierce enemy. We are aware of urgent threats of rising sea levels, but there is and was also fluctuating river levels, and even lake levels.

In honour of World Water Day 2019, the Society for Water History and the Environmental Humanities Center organize a workshop on the theme of Water Safety and Unsafety and concepts of nature, on Thursday March 21 at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam. We focus on behaviour and concepts related to dealing with rivers, lakes, and a sea turned into a lake in the Netherlands, and the largest lake in the EU, Lake Vännern in Sweden.

The symposium hosts recent and nearly completed research projects presented by MA-students, PhD-students and senior researchers. We have two sessions, one in Dutch and one in English. Preceding the sessions there will be a meeting for members of the Society.

Workshop Programme

Chair: Prof. dr. Petra van Dam

Session 1 – Floods and near-floods (in Dutch)

13.00-13.10 Gijs Bartels, BA Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Nationale ramp of niet? Reacties op en discussies rond het debat over de dijkdoorbraak van 1960 in Amsterdam-Noord

13.10-13.40 Prof dr. Lotte Jensen, Radboud Universiteit
Zingen om het hoofd boven water te houden. Overstromingen en de Nederlandse liedcultuur

13.40-14.00 Discussie

14.00 – 14.15 Interval

14.15-14.35 Francien van den Heuvel, promovenda Open Universiteit
‘‘s-Hertogenbosch, een onneembare stad midden in een meer’, Hulpverlening en preventie tijdens watersnoden in de 18e eeuw

14.35-15.05 Dr. Toon Bosch, UHD Open Universiteit
Omgangstrategieën met de watersnoodrampen van 1925/1926 in transnationaal perspectief

15.05-15.25 Discussie

15.25-15.15.45 Interval

Session 2 – Politics and Science: concepts of nature

15.45-15.55 Alida Jones, BA Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Keeping the Waterwolf from the door.  Reported acts of community support after the storm surge of 1916

15.55-16.15 Dr. Eva Jakobsson, UHD Stavanger University
Political debates on water levels of Lake Vaennern, Sweden, early 20th century

16.15-16.45 Leonoor Borgesius, PhD student, Oslo University
Notions of time in the (scientific) policy of the reclamation of the IJsselmeer Polders

16.45-17.15 Discussion

17.15 Closure

Drinks in the Bar The Basket, situated at the campus, next to the Main Building.


Please register by sending an email:

Please transfer € 5,- for members VWG or  € 10,- for non-members (VU staf members and students free) to Banking Account NL91 INGB 0000 0938 30 t.n.v. Vereniging voor Waterstaatsgeschiedens, Rotterdam, o.v.v. workshop March 21.

For finding the VU Main Building check the website. It is 10-minutes walk from Amsterdam Zuid Train Station and it connects to this station by Metro 51. For finding the room, take the elevators at the group of 6 lifts to the 15th floor; or for more information, contact the hostesses at the main entrance.

Organizer and contact person on 21 March:

Petra van Dam

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