The study of Dutch history, language and culture has a long and distinguished past at UCL. It began in 1919 with the founding of a Chair of Dutch History and the establishment of a Department of Dutch.
Since then, its remit has expanded to the entire Low Countries, including Belgium and Luxembourg as well as the Netherlands. Today, it includes a full programme of research, teaching, publications, and events. The centre’s location at UCL in London provides direct access to:
- Massive collections of Dutch books, manuscripts, prints, and maps that rival, in some cases, those in Amsterdam, The Hague and Brussels
- Dutch and Flemish art collections with major masterpieces at the National Gallery and several other museums
- The largest Dutch-language library of any UK university
- A concentration of expertise that is unique in the Anglophone world.
Previous occupants of the Chair in Dutch History have produced path-breaking, fundamental work on a wide range of topics in Low Countries History, including the Dutch Revolt, Anglo-Dutch relations, political theory, Dutch commerce, Dutch-Jewish history, and the early Enlightenment.
The mission of the UCL Low Countries Centre is to study a series of historic relationships and to nurture their further development in the present day:
- Connections between the Low Countries and neighbouring lands, including most importantly Great Britain
- Encounters between diverse groups, religions, and cultures within the Low Countries themselves
- Interactions of Dutch-speaking people around the globe, wherever Dutch language and culture have had or currently have an impact.
The centre draws on the methodologies and insights of a range of intellectual disciplines, including:
- Border Studies
- Spatial Turn in History
- Transnational History
- Translation Studies
- Comparative Literary Studies
- Area Studies (most notably the North Sea as a unit)
- Migration Studies
- Postcolonial Studies.
Our remit extends to the entire historic region of the Low Countries, sometimes referred to as the Benelux countries: The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. In addition, it extends to the places around the globe where Dutch-speaking peoples have lived or currently live, including parts of the Americas, South Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Through research, teaching and outreach the Centre focuses especially on the study of encounters, interactions, connections, exchanges and networks involving the Low Countries and their language and culture. It seeks to address the issues arising from such relationships in both past and present – issues of conflict and toleration, diversity and integration, mobility and community, negotiation and exchange, and intercultural interaction, with particular attention to exchanges between the Dutch and Anglophone worlds.
Activities hosted by the Centre or affiliated with it will include the following:
- An annual seminar series: the Low Countries Seminar, held at the Institute for Historical Research
- An annual lecture by a high-profile scholar: the Pieter Geyl Memorial Lectures
- An MA programme: the MA in the Dutch Golden Age, run by UCL and offered on an interdisciplinary, intercollegiate basis
- Publication of ‘Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies’
- Hosting of visiting academics
- Annual study days
The centre will work in co-operation with the Dutch Centre recently established in the City of London to develop new common activities and contribute to each other’s programmes.
This website will serve as a hub of information on Low Countries Studies and cultural activities in London. It will also provide various online resources, including an interactive Timeline of Cross-Channel Interactions between the Peoples of Britain and the Netherlands.