Football team of NEC in 1958, with Antillean crowd favourites Pedro Koolman and Moises Bicentini on the right
Football team of NEC in 1958, with Antillean crowd favourites Pedro Koolman and Moises Bicentini on the right

NWO grant for research programme Re/Presenting Europe: Popular Representations of Diversity and Belonging

How can we produce better knowledge about the many populations that have shaped Europe for centuries? How can we match the image of who and what Europe is with everyday practice? The interdisciplinary consortium 'Re/Presenting Europe' will research these and other questions in the next five years. The new consortium recently received a grant of 4.9 million euros from the National Science Agenda.

Led by cultural historian Rachel Gillett (Utrecht University), the interdisciplinary consortium Re/presenting Europe will look for positive examples of connectedness, for example in popular sports such as football. But also for art and culture in the city, such as hip-hop. In other words: who are the new heroes and how do they contribute to the feeling of 'feeling at home' among the youngest generations? The consortium will also investigate what positive didactic practices can be found in education.

Power of sports

Professor Marjet Derks (sports history) and Professor Jaap Verheul (transatlantic relations) will be part of the consortium on behalf of Radboud University. Together with the Mulier Institute for Sport Research and Policy (Utrecht), the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Curacao and a number of social partners, they will investigate the power of sport. Derks: 'We see sport as one of the challenging areas to strengthen Europe. In addition to far-reaching stereotyping of ethnicity that has had a negative impact, we also want to highlight the powerful contribution of sport in this project. The visibility of ethnically-diverse champions and role models shows a positive different culture - think for example of the team that won the silver medal in the 4x400 metres relay at the Tokyo Olympic Games.’ The Nijmegen team will also use digital humanities technology to investigate old and new representations of sports heroes in public media.

Inclusive understanding

The long-term goal of this project is a more inclusive understanding of Europe and the Netherlands in particular. This redefinition of European society recognises the longstanding presence of super-diverse groups of 'others'. By using the creative energy of diversity, solidarity becomes visible and healing from colonial trauma can take place. This is expected to increase the resilience and social cohesion of European society. Project leader Gillett: 'Our ultimate goal is to strengthen the social cohesion of Europe. We see it as an interwoven society that is strong and cohesive. In the extensive discussions that have already taken place within this project, we have rejected the notion of 'black identity'. The paradox is that breaking through this category has brought us together in this common adventure'.

Boundary-crossing collaboration

The strength of this consortium is the groundbreaking degree of cooperation between academic research institutions and community-based organisations that represent and reflect the diversity of European society. This team investigates links between the Dutch identity and Europe, also in the transatlantic connection. Claudia Marinelli of the National Knowledge Institute for Culture Education and Amateur Art (LKCA) emphasises the importance of cooperation with community-based organisations: 'As LKCA we find it essential that the research takes place with people from the field and is given back to the field, for example by means of theatre performances, podcasts and dialogue sessions. Only then can we bring about change.’


Utrecht University will be collaborating with a large number of universities (Erasmus University Rotterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen, Leiden University, University of Amsterdam University of Curaçao, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), universities of applied sciences (Hanzehogeschool Groningen and Hogeschool Utrecht) and many social and knowledge organisations (Landelijk Kennisinstituut Cultuureducatie en Amateurkunst LKCA, Mulier Institute, National Museum of World Cultures, the Participation Federation, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Cultuur Oost, House of Urban Arts, Stichting de Sportwereld, Feyenoord, Erfgoed Brabant, Keti Koti Tafel, Future Me, Stichting Amsterdam Hip Hop Academy, Stichting Fundashon Bon Intenshun, Literatuurmuseum, Zwart Archief, Stichting Ocan, Noordstaat, De Rijdende Popschool, Groninger Museum, Stichting Nowhere, ZIMIHC, FunX).

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