On the Waterfront 31

24 January 2018 - 9:31

On the Waterfront is the semi-annual magazine of the IISH. This is issue 31 (2016)

On the Waterfront : newsletter from the Friends of the IISH
Authors: Bouwe Hijma, Huub Sanders, Eric de Ruijter
Place of publication: Amsterdam
Year: 2016 / Issue: 31 / Format: 16 pp.

Including a lecture by Leo Lucassen on 21st January 2016: 'From Leiden to Amsterdam: Impressions of a Special Relationship'


The second half of 2015 marked the 80th anniversary of the IISH. Institute staff celebrated the event on 30 June; the Friends did so on 25 November. At that most recent meeting, Wim Berkelaar interviewed several people who have been very involved in collecting for the IISH for some time. The IISH continues to operate in a remarkably broad perspective, from collecting on international organizations, to contacts with Russia or how as a collector from Europe, you need to adapt overnight to daily practice in Indonesia.

Another omnipresent theme, also in this issue of On the Waterfront, is engagement and scholarship. I have only a few highlights to report from our agenda in the past six months. The first event is the Unofficial Histories congress on 5 and 6 June. Organized by young English historians, this congress figures in the tradition of “History from below” and drew a lot of interest both internationally and domestically.

Another congress, held in October, reached back further in time: Runaways: Desertion and Mobility in Global Labour History, c. 1650-1850. This event revealed that unfree workers often resisted and shaped their own lives. An important congress last November about the future of history as an academic discipline was Big Questions, Big Data. Relating the big questions about inequality and labour to the rapidly growing, large, and jointly constructed databases will figure continuously on the agenda.

The VARA series De Strijd [the battle] introduced general audiences to the history of the labour movement. Watching current employees and former employees on television is always fun, especially when they make a nice impression. I particularly enjoyed the performance by Rudolf de Jong about Domela Nieuwenhuis.

I also recommend a visit to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where the exhibition about Seth Siegelaub opened on 11 December. Siegelaub was a key figure in conceptual art but was active in many other areas as well. In the 1970s, for example, he assembled a collection relating to media and Marxism, giving it the panoramic title International Mass Media Research Center (IMMCR). In 1989 Götz Langkau took receipt of this collection at the IISH. While I knew this collection as “simply” a library from that period, it has turned out to be a treasure trove of modern art history presented to the general public.

In conclusion, a photograph is added, taken by Peter van Beek. This is part of a series that the Friends presented to the Institute as a gift for its 80th anniversary.

IISH On the Waterfront 31