Ancestors in the polder? The biography of the new land and its representation in science, culture and policy. (2009-2014)

Demelza van der Maas started her research on 1 June 2009 and her position as PhD ended officially on 1 June 2013. During 2013 she worked hard on finishing her research and in December 2013 her thesis was approved by the reading committee. Demelza successfully defended her thesis on the 24 May 2014 at VU Amsterdam.

In the original proposal for this subproject two research lines were set out. In the first place, research focused on history of science and historical representation processes, and in the second place on contemporary processes of relating how the communities and people within the heritage sector give meaning to specific aspects of ... At the same time, a broad range of historical sources were used, from poetry to policy documents.

During 2011, it was decided to focus on a number of concrete, contemporary case studies, moving the primary focus of the research to the contemporary processes of giving meaning in the communities and heritage sector of the IJsselmeer polders. The research still has a wide orientation, but out of necessity the number of historical sources has been limited somewhat. However, the history has not been forgotten: each case will be provided with a historical context and where relevant, the interaction between historical and contemporary processes of representation will still be taken into account.

In 2012, the various case studies were developed further, and additional research material was collected through archival research, interviews and fieldwork. Moreover, the theoretical framework was revised and with special attention given to specific elements of her research, based on input from other people - received during conferences, symposia and individual meetings. A final table of contents was also established, structuring the research in a logical way.

The search for history, identity and the relationship in the IJsselmeerpolders form the base of Van der Maas thesis entitled 'Verleden boven Water: erfgoed, identiteit en binding in de IJsselmeerpolders' (Past above water: Heritage, Identity and relationships in the IJsselmeerpolders). By using specific examples from historical and contemporary heritage practice, insight has been gained into the way regional heritage practice creates the IJsselmeerpolders as a society that has developed over time.

The thesis consists of three parts, which focus on the role of remembering practice, museums and cultural heritage at the construction of a regional identity. Identity is interpreted here as a narrative construction: mankind derives its (historical) identity from the stories that circulate and tell us about the culture or society in which mankind lives.

Project details


Demelza van der Maas MA

Prof. Dr. Susan Legêne

Prof. Dr. Jan Kolen


Publications 2014

  • Maas, D. van der (2014). Verleden boven water. Erfgoed, identiteit en binding in de IJsselmeerpolders. VU Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam: manuscript).
  • Maas, D. van der (2014) ‘Van Konstgalerij tot erfgoedlijn. Erfgoed, geschiedenis en identiteit in Nederland van 1800 tot nu’. Historisch Tijdschrift Holland (3-4).
  • Maas, D. van der, Muurling, S., van der Zee, A. (red.) (2014) Erfgoedlijnen in Holland. Historisch Tijdschrift Holland (3-4).
  • Maas, D. van der (2014) ‘Debating the restitution of human remains from Dutch museum collections. The case of the skulls from Urk’, in: L. Tythacott & K. Arvanitis (Eds.), Museums and Restitution: New practices, New Approaches. London: Ashgate.

Publications 2013

  • Maas, D. van der (2013). Debating the restitution of human remains from Dutch museum collections. The case of the skulls from Urk. In L. Tythacott & K. Arvanitis (Eds.), Museums and Restitution: New practices, New Approaches (pp. 139-150). Londen: Ashgate.

Publications 2012

  • Maas, D. van der (2012). Pionieren in Poort: de culturele constructie van Almere. Quotidian: Dutch Journal for the Study of Everyday Life, 3 (1).
  • Rodenberg, J., Biggelaar, D.F.A.M. van den, Maas, D. van der, Pieters, H.D. & Loon, R.R. van (2012, maart 29). How to contextualize the New Land? Veldhoven, Nederlands Aardwetenschappelijk Congres NAC11.

Publications 2010

  • Maas, D. van der (2010). De drie levens van de Urker Schedels. In R. van Diepen, W. van der Most & H. Pruntel (Eds.), De blik vooruit (Cultuurhistorisch Jaarboek voor Flevoland, 20) (pp. 64-87). Lelystad: Stichting Uitgeverij de Twaalfde Provincie.