Escape Room ‘Universiteit in verzet’

Very occasionally, we leave the Erasmus Building for a bit of distraction. To celebrate the first months of our research project and the beginning of summer – and to cash in the coupon we received from the Faculty of Arts – we visited the Radboud University’s new Escape Room. ‘Universiteit in verzet’ is located at the basement of the Valkhof Museum and is themed around student life during World War II. We are very proud to say we succeeded in escaping the room with more than 3 minutes on the clock!

Expert meeting: Tim Soens, University of Antwerp

On Monday 4 June, the project team travelled to Antwerp for an expert meeting with Tim Soens, professor in medieval and environmental history at the University of Antwerp. His research focuses on the environmental and rural history of urbanized societies, and issues of resilience and vulnerability. Both research groups presented their work in short lectures. The presentations of the Antwerp team were held by Maïka De Keyzer, Eline Van Onacker, Stef Espeel, Sam Geens, Rogier Van Kooten en Alessandra De Mulder. The topics included Plague in the Middle Ages, food crises, shifting-sands, the perception of victims in 18th century newspapers and shrinking cities.

De Jonge Akademie: evening about identity

On the 18th of April, KNAW’s De Jonge Akademie organises an evening on ‘identity’, on which experts from several fields will provide a lecture connected to this theme. Lotte Jensen, who was a member of De Jonge Akademie until today, will talk about floods (and disasters in general) as boosters of national identity formation: De strijd tegen het water. Rampen als motor achter nationale identiteitsvorming. You can register on the website of the event.

Update 07-05-2018: Jensen’s lecture is uploaded online and can be watched here.

International disasters at the at the European Social Science History Conference in Belfast

On the 7th of April, Lotte Jensen & Marguérite Corporaal (Associate Professor English Language and Literature at Radboud University) will present a paper at the European Social Science History Conference in Belfast, at Queen’s University. Their paper looks at natural disasters through a transnational lens, pointing to the urgency of such a methodology as well as presenting two concrete case studies: the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845-1849 and the Irish famine of 1879-1882. As will be demonstrated, the frequent engagement with disasters taking place elsewhere in Europe or across the globe, as well as evidence for a transnational cultural production of disasters, challenge the conceptualisation of borders and of European identity formation.


Expert meeting: Raingard Esser, University of Groningen

On Christmas eve 1717, the coastal regions of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark were hit by a severe flood disaster. The so-called Christmas Flood killed thousands of people. The sea water damaged the fields, farms and houses deep into the interior. On Tuesday 6 March 2018, the project team travelled to Groningen to visit the exhibition Kerstvloed 1717 in the Noorderlijk Scheepvaartmuseum and met with Raingard Esser, professor of Early Modern History at the University of Groningen. Esser wrote various articles on flood disasters in the Low Countries.

During the expert meeting, various aspects of early modern flood disasters were discussed. Did the flood disasters contribute to the formation of a local or national identity? Did floods always lead to solidarity, or also to conflict? What was the role of religion in the interpretation of disasters? How were floods integrated in the cultural memory of the region?

Esser indicated various possibilities for future research and argued that cultural historical research on floods has great value. Due to climate change, the risk of floods is increasing in coastal regions like Groningen. To cope with this hazard, culture and cultural memory are just as instrumental as technological and political solutions. The British ESRC-funded research project Sustainable Flood Memories (University of Warwick) has drawn attention to the fact that sustainable flood memories and the awareness of the hazard could potentially save lives.

PhD’s publish contribution on ‘Over de Muur’

For the weblog ‘Over de Muur’, Adriaan Duiveman, Marieke van Egeraat, Fons Meijer, and Lilian Nijhuis have written a short article (in Dutch) in which they tackle the issue of the gas crisis in the province of Groningen. They argue that Dutch politicians can learn a lot from the way in which King Louis Napoleon, the first Dutch monarch, dealt with Dutch disasters.

Read the article here.

Save the Date: Symposium on ‘Water’ on June 7th, 2018

Water is both a promise and a threat to societies: it is a source of life, but can also kill in the shape of floods. And throughout the ages, water has inspired artists of all kinds to make paintings, poems, and movies about it. During a multi-disciplinary on June 7th, 2018, scholars of various backgrounds will explore the phenomenon of water and its role within culture as well as beyond. Click here to see the full programme.

Attendance is free, but do not forget to register by sending an e-mail to Lotte Jensen ( before June 1st, 2018.


Commemoration of the North Sea flood of 1953

Today, it has been 65 years since the North Sea flood of 1953 killed over 1800 people in the regions of Zeeland, South Holland and North Brabant. Not only did the flood – commonly known as the Watersnoodsramp – eventually lead to the authorisation of the Delta Works, it also made a lasting impression on Dutch collective memory: the disaster was granted its own museum (in 2000) and featured in the 2009 movie De Storm. Even though the 20th century falls beyond the scope of Dealing with Disasters, the North Sea flood of 1953 is a fine example of the relation between natural catastrophes and identity formation.

It can hardly be a coincidence that on that very day 65 years later, the Dealing with Disasters research group started its research into the fascinating history of Dutch natural disasters.

Launch of the Website

Welcome to the website of the Dealing with Disasters research project! This website will serve to report on developments, discoveries, and publications pertaining to our research on the impact of (natural) disasters in the Netherlands.

Since this website is still under construction, any feedback would be much appreciated. If you have a question concerning the website, please contact Fons Meijer ( Should you have any other questions concerning our project, please send an e-mail to Lotte Jensen (