dr. D. (Demelza) van der Maas

Demelza van der MaasDemelza van der Maas works as a lecturer at the VU University Amsterdam in the Department of History. She obtained her PhD at the VU in 2014. Her PhD-research focused on local identity construction and cultural heritage practice in the Dutch IJsselmeerpolders, placed in the context of broader processes of cultural nationalism and identity politics in the Netherlands.

PhD Research: Local identity construction and cultural heritage practice in the Dutch IJsselmeerpolders (2009-2014)

This study is meant to present insights in the way the polders are shaped as physical and imagined space in (day to day) historical culture in the region. It focuses on the role of heritage, museums and remembrance practices in the construction of a regional identity. Heritage is interpreted as a dynamic contemporary social construct. The aim is to concentrate on the imagination surrounding man and space, not only as it is visualized and staged in the historical culture, but also to make it historically specific for the polder habitat and to explain the differences in meaning during changing social and political contexts.

By presenting three broad, thematic case studies it will be shown where and when the imagination around the IJsselmeerpolders and their inhabitants finds its origin (the historical value) and how this imagination is made (politically) instrumental in the heritage field (how does heritage function as a social construct?). This study also takes a closer look at the stories that are being told about heritage, both in a textual and a visual manner. Furthermore, it will enter the social and political context, in which these stories get their sense and meaning.

Supervisor: Prof. dr. Susan LegĂȘne

E-mail: d.vander.maas@vu.nl