In memoriam - Machteld Maris

21 April 2020 - 15:56

"If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution" Machteld Maris, 1970 - 2020 If I can't dance to it, it's not my revolution wrote Emma Goldman, whose archives are kept at the IISH. It's a quote that fits Machteld like no other. For the 'Festival of the Rebellion' that she organized in 2018, she had it printed on T-shirts, and she even had the columns in the canteen of the IISH stick with it as a statement.

For Machteld, work had to be fun to do and to experience, on top of that it had to be something good. If it couldn't be anything major and compelling, why start at all?

During her time at the IISH, she set up one successful event after another. A not at all modest grasp: Wim Kok tapes, De Lage Lonen Show, the presentation of the book Vijf Eeuwen Migratie (Five Centuries of Migration), several editions of the Volkskrant IISH Thesis Prize, jubilee activities around the 125th anniversary of the ANDB (for which she herself became Betje Lazarus in de Burcht), the presentation of the Slavery Research project; everything was equally solid and well put together. And, If you can't dance to it, Machteld loved to dance and with her enthusiasm she made this a regular part of staff drinks and receptions.

A sharp, alert and passionate attitude is what typified Machteld. A power woman. Although her unconventional and loose appearance sometimes gave a different first impression, she knew very well what she wanted and how to do it. Machteld was overwhelming and disruptive. You could almost say anarchistic, which fits in well with the IISH's large anarchist collection there. You could prepare something with her, but it turned out completely different and even better than you first envisioned. Strong-willed, refreshing, averse to theoretical by the book communication principles and jargon, but what she did was solid. With her intuition, skill, enormous network and charm she got so much done. What is also remarkable is that in no time at all she had a deeply felt connection with both the collections and the research and the social relevance thereof.

As a colleague, she could come sailing into anyone's room at any time, whether it was the director or the youngest clerk. Without any introduction, she would claim that she did not agree with something, that she had a good plan or that she wanted to use you for something. With her catching enthusiasm and energy you went along with it - simply because it was Machteld.

Machteld Maris was a senior communications adviser at the Humanities Cluster, but above all she was involved with the International Institute of Social History (IISH). Machteld left us stagerringly fast after she was diagnosed in February with a brain tumor. All employees of the IISH and the Humanities Cluster of the KNAW will miss her dearly.

Machteld Maris