Staying Human in a Bèta* World

*In Dutch a distinction is made between alpha, beta and gamma sciences:
The alpha sciences comprise of human sciences such as philosophy, history, philology, musicology, linguistics, theatre studies, literary studies, media studies, and sometimes even theology. At English speaking universities, they are often called humanoria. The beta sciences are the natural and technical sciences. The gamma sciences refer to the sciences concerned with society and behaviour: sociology, anthropology, public administration, economics, law, political science, psychology and communication science, but also Human Geography among others.

On Saturday Sept. 21 Bas Heijne published the following very telling opinion article in the Dutch newspaper NRC as a reaction on one of the newest irascible ideas of the minister for education. One would expect that this opinion is a truism, for those who have seriously reflected on the role of academia and formation in general in the current times. It is a strange fact that such unreflected ideas emerge since Wilhelm von Humboldt invented the idea of modern universities already in 1810. Below my own free translation of this opinion article:

Transfer money from ‘useless’ alfa studies to ‘useful’ beta studies? Fortunately, the universities do not allow themselves to be played off against each other, Bas Heijne observes:

Last summer Ingrid van Engelshoven, Minister of Education, Culture and Science, together with an editor of this newspaper took a walk along churches in the eastern part of the Netherlands. It turned out to be a pleasant day. The minister is not religious, but she has something with churches: ‘If you are in a church, and you can light a candle, I will do that. It’s always completely quiet, a moment of total tranquillity’.

For the preservation of Dutch heritage, and churches, in particular, she has earmarked 325 million Euro. Those churches are more and more deserted or are already out of use, but for this minister they have more than just a religious meaning – they tell us who we are.

As a child who grew up abroad and felt like a stranger in the Netherlands, she herself also was in need of such a story: ‘Why is this place as it is? And now, I think that is a very fascinating question, for myself, to dig into, but also for a society, for a society with many newcomers. If we want to be able to explain why we do things the way we do, we have to tell a story about our history. And there is nothing that tells a story as well as objects: an image, a painting, a building, a church building. That’s what makes heritage so incredibly meaningful’.

The irony, the travesty, the godforsaken scandal, or whatever you want to call it, is that it is precisely this minister who wants to dismantle these academic disciplines which study this ‘story’ even further, by taking money away from the alpha and gamma studies and transferring it to technical studies. The Netherlands does not educate enough engineers, that is a problem; we are lagging behind if you compare us with other countries. But we had to shift money between the different realms sciences within the framework of the existing budget, so this business is dealt with ‘quick and dirty’, as the minister herself puts it.

Quick and dirty – that’s a completely different language than the philosophical drivel about the meaning of the church in the Dutch landscape (‘A church is a beacon, an anchor point’) An image, a painting, a building, a church building ‘tell’ nothing by itself. Not if you don’t know anything about it, not if you don’t delve into it, not if you don’t know history and context. It is we ourselves who tell the story about these objects, we allocate meaning to them, we hold them up to the light, examine them, cherish them and relate them to other stories. The disciplines that deal with that story have a name: The humanities.

Heritage is ‘so incredibly meaningful’. But heritage is not lighting a candle in a quiet church, it is not a safe, cultural enclave in which the past is forever buried in a showcase, with a small sign telling what it is. Heritage doesn’t consist of objects and buildings that you only have to upkeep to preserve their meaning.

Look at the fierce debates that followed the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris. Nobody will claim that the cathedral is just a careless pile of stones. But what is Notre-Dame, then? What does the cathedral “tell” us? Is the wounded heart of Catholic France, a Gothic masterpiece, a symphony of beauty, a romantic fantasy, thanks to Victor Hugo and Disney? Or is the battered church, in the words of the Catholic Schöngeist Antoine Bodar, “a symbol of a humanity that has declared God as superfluous”? Why does one think it’s funny when an architectural firm proposes to make a parking lot or a swimming pool on the new roof and does a pessimistic (cultural) Christian see this as a sign of miserable decay?

We tell that story – or rather, those stories. To be able to tell them, we need to know the history of the cathedral, the religious thoughts that underlie it. The debate about the restoration – are we simply turning that nineteenth-century spire into another nineteenth-century replica, or are we turning it into something new? – is a sociological-cultural debate. Humanities, then.

Engelshoven’s reputation at the universities is bad, and rightly so; she professes with her mouth a conviction that contradicts her policy. It is also the deathblow to the credibility of her party, The party that traditionally supports education, D66, where, anyhow, great ideas rarely turn out to be firm beliefs.

But let’s be honest, this minister is just a symptom, she only moves hand in hand with the spirit of the times. The humanities are under pressure everywhere. In his book Sensemaking: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm (2017) Christian Madsbjerg, consultant and advisor to large companies such as Ford, Adidas and Chanel, describes how the tide has turned in society against everything that is not measurable, practical and profitable: ‘the humanities – disciplines that explore cultural products such as literature, history, philosophy, art, but sometimes also psychology and anthropology – would no longer serve ‘social needs’ ’.

The spirit of the humanities has been replaced by a technological worldview. Madsbjerg: ‘For what is the value of a human-centred cultural approach compared to an endless stream of information that is now available via big data? What is the value of reading ground-breaking novels if algorithms can ‘read’ them all and give us an objective analysis of their content? What value lies in theatre plays, paintings, historical studies, dance, political discourses and ceramics, in short, in cultural knowledge that cannot be detached from its specific context and cannot be processed in huge information locks’?

Madsbjerg is not part of the university, he makes – I suppose – huge amounts of money with his consultancy work. His plea for the importance of the humanities cannot be dismissed as a transparent sermon for his own parish, from someone who fears for his job. He also avoids the evangelistic tone, which is as quickly exalted when it comes to immaterial values Exaltation through the appreciation of what has no economic or measurable societal use. Such begging, defensive argumentations have no effect on deaf politicians and policymakers.

Eric Wiebes, Minister of Economic Affairs, last week in Het Financieele Dagblad: ‘Do we still have to teach French and Greek? Are we going to beat the Chinese with that in twenty years?’

For Madsbjerg especially the humanities are very useful – not so much to become a better and more civilized person, that’s just a by-catch for him, but mainly because one can make a good amount of money with them. Ceo’s of companies that are going to do business in another country, China, for instance, would be better off studying Chinese culture and history and adjust their strategy accordingly. If you want to run your business well, you’d better get some human knowledge, and for that, a novel by for example Balzac helps you more than just another questionnaire evaluation.

Instinct, discernment, empathy, insight into differences, an eye for details that turn the overall picture upside down – are you listening Wiebes? – to develop a sense of all that, you need the arts and the humanities. The human being is a technical being, but technology doesn’t make us human. Not yet.

The humanities don’t just ‘tell’ you things, they make you watch differently. Leave all reports and data for what they are, Madsbjerg suggests, read, think, wonder, study. So that your company is better organised, your employees are more satisfied, you better understand what your customers are waiting for.

No wonder that so many people in high positions in society have done a ‘senseless study’. Madsbjerg: ‘Before you laugh at your daughter for wanting to study Confucian philosophy, or before you look down on people who do a major in French poetry, realise that it can very well be, that you will be working for someone with such an education. Do not be surprised if the chairman of the board of directors or the manager is someone who has studied history, is in love with Slavic languages or specialised in Greek. Of course, if your son loves mathematics, encourage him to enter the world of sciences. But keeping yourself or your children away from the humanities […] doesn’t make much sense – neither for them nor for the future of society’.

Hey, actually, Madsbjerg here says the same thing as our prime minister did the other day during a relaxing moment at Lowlands. Prime minister Mark Rutte: ‘Watch out for what they call ‘useful’ studies. That will not be successful if you don’t really like it’.

Well, but nevertheless continue cutting the budgets for these sciences. But Rutte certainly has a point. Our prime minister is a historian. Eric Wiebes, the dud of this government, studied at the technical university in Delft.

Sensemaking, that’s what it’s all about, according to Madsjberg. Facts say nothing if you don’t give them meaning. You can be scornful about the blatant way in which the consultant turns the humanities into tools in a neo-liberal, purely profit-maximising society. You can even say it’s dangerous, just as dangerous as wanting to demonstrate the importance of art to society by purely and simply pointing out the economic effects of a rich cultural life – look at the turnover of restaurants near a theatre!

And what if it isn’t profitable for once if there’s money to pay for it?

What is nice, however, is that Madsbjerg removes the humanities from the domain of irrelevance, the cramped enclave of so-called ‘fun studies’. I find that a relief.

My example: take the merger of KLM and Air France. What a misery (and money) one could have saved if one had studied each other’s history and culture beforehand! They seem to be similar companies, airlines. Technically, their planes are the same, no matter if the labelled as KLM or Air France. But both companies turned out to be completely different because one is French and the other Dutch. Business management, personnel policy, relationship with politics, all of this is heavily influenced and determined by elusive, poorly measurable factors. And these are precisely the factors that the ‘fun studies’ are concerned with.

Or take the attitude of many citizens towards KLM as ‘national pride’. Or the chauvinism with which the French look at the Netherlands, and vice versa. If you don’t have an eye for that, if you don’t immerse yourself in it, you’re asking for trouble. And trouble they had, and have not disappeared yet. When it’s about utility, it’s almost always about what’s useful for the economy, rarely about what’s useful for society. Humanities are useful for both.

Fortunately, everything now points in the direction that universities do not allow themselves to be played out against each other by this government. Most of them do not intend to take money away from alpha and gamma studies, because they realise that the social importance of alpha studies has in fact only increased in recent years.

‘We think it’s a bad idea to take money away from alpha and gamma studies,’ says Karen Maex, rector of the University of Amsterdam in the newspaper NRC. ‘Especially now that we’re facing major social challenges. The impact of innovations is enormous, it’s important that you look at them from all different disciplines. Think of the energy transition or artificial intelligence”.

What is more valuable, Yuval Noah Harari wonders at the end of his worldwide bestselling Homo Deus, ‘knowledge or consciousness?’ Who we are, how we look at ourselves and others, how our minds work, how we deal with new technology, how we can remain human in a world ruled by big data – these are questions that we increasingly struggle with outside the walls of universities. By playing ‘useless’ alpha and ‘useful’ beta studies off against each other, Van Engelshoven has shown that her cultural blah blah for the stage about ‘the story’ we tell about ourselves is hypocritical. But above all, her policy shows that she has very little feeling for what is really going on.

‘In the seventeen years that I have been a director, relations with the government in The Hague have never been as bad as they are now,’ says Carel Stolker, rector of Leiden University. When the Dutch universities defuse this minister’s policy by ignoring it steely, she’d best go for a very long church walk.

So let us think twice and foster academic thinking and education


Valedictory Symposium of Fer Hooghuis

At Sept. 20, 2019 Fer Hooghuis, our expert for the (high school) didactics of Geography retired and held a valedictory symposium, addressing the positioning of Geography as a discipline both at University and at high school.

During his active career, Fer Hooghuis was a strong proponent of a didactics which teach our pupils and students how to think. His ideas were also clearly expressed in a publication in the journal on International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education. This perfectly suited what I tried to establish with Geography at the Radboud University. Namely, to get away from sheer descriptive and rather superficial geographic knowledge and move towards an engaged science trying to make sense and to understand the complex relationships in our geographically very diverse and contingent world. A science which also critically ask uneasy questions and tries to make a difference. A science which literally practices deliberate and well thought through placemaking. A science which teaches critical and responsible thinking and doing. A science which creates the conditions for ‘deep tinking’.

In general, high school geography and high school geography didactics are not known for their theoretical and philosophical sophistication, but I very much appreciate the endeavour of Fer Hooghuis and his colleagues to change that, not just by teaching thinking skills to pupils, but also by founding the didactics on a more thorough theoretical and philosophical basis. Yes, also teachers need to be deep thinkers.

In this respect, I am a great admirer of the didactical work of Prof. Mirca Dickel, of the University of Jena in Germany, who also once visited the Radboud university in the framework of an event at the Radboud University for further education of schoolteachers. Fer Hooghuis and me, at that occasion, presented how an Action Theoretic Approach in Geography could very well be taught to pupils by the hands-on example of the ‘Soccer Game’. This work was very much inspired by the book on ‘Soccer Theory’ by Jan Tamboer, which I can still very much recommend.  I was in the audience at Mirca Dickel’s lecture at the German Geography Conference in Kiel this autumn, where she gave a wonderful exposé on ‘The complementarity of Phenomenology and Epistemology in geographical Thinking’ based on a paper she recently wrote in German: Dickel (2019) Zwischen sinnlichem Erleben und sprachlich-rationalem Begreifen [Between sensual experience and linguistic-rational understanding] . Fer Hooghuis would have enjoyed it, as it was a great example of how deep thinking inspires teaching and how teaching helps to develop our ability to think deeply.

We are very confident that Fer Hooghuis’ successor, Joost Penninx, at the Radboud Teachers Academy, will continue on this track and establish a fascinating didactics for Geographical Thinking.

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture Series 2019-2020

Integrative Affects of Urban Public Space

Nowadays a growing majority of the world population live in urban environments. Cities in general and the public spaces within cities in particular are the places where human encounters and exchanges take place. The socio-spatial as well as the physical and built shape of urban development affect the chances and quality of life people have (Brenner & Schmid, 2014). Cities are the hotspots and nodes of modern societies, where social, political and economic integration takes place.

Urban studies have increasingly emphasised the socially and politically contested dimensions of public space, and as a consequence focussed on the structural, processual and institutional formations (Low & Smith, 2013), while at the same time neglecting the material and emotional or affective aspects (Reckwitz, 2012). Nevertheless, the challenges of integration, exclusion, disintegration, fragmentation in urban places are more urgent than ever. People living together in cities are more than parts in an urban machine and are more than objects of political regulation. They are deeply cultural and also embodied emotional subjects. Recent work has begun to develop concepts and methods for understanding public spaces as affective and emotional places (Böhme, 2017; Hasse, 2014; Griffero, 2014; Schmitz et al., 2011).

In this Alexander von Humboldt Lecture series we take forward this work by exploring the affective dimensions of urban public spaces. Beginning by reframing the public spaces of cities as spaces of affect and emotion, we will focus on how integration is a matter of how urban experience is patterned, lived and organised. Problems of integration, exclusion, disintegration, fragmentation as played out in the public space of our future cities can only be understood and effectively dealt with if we also take these material and affective aspects into account.


  • How do specific collective affects support, undermine, enable or otherwise affect transformative integration?
  • How might urban policy and urban design in relation to transformative integration take collective affects into account?

Contribution to the debate on Public Spaces: Culture and Integration

There are four main issues we want to raise: First, we address a novel retheorisation of transformative integration that understands it as the coming together of differences in the midst of specific affective-material contexts and processes. Second, by applying this conceptual framework for transformative integration to different occasions of urban integration and change we want to ask how integration can and should happen. Third, we also want to discuss new methodological approaches by utilising a critical phenomenological approach to the affective integrative dimension of space combined with a real transnational approach towards integration. Specifically, we try to overcome the methodological individualism of existing approaches by focusing on the ensemble of practices and associated affects and emotions that form public spaces. Finally: we want to address how these insights inspire and reflect the field of practical policy making so that inclusive public places can be produced through practical placemaking. Together this results in a truly innovative perspective to these debates, which should also spark further research work and publications in this direction.

This years programme is conducted in close cooperation with the Cultural Geography Group of Wageningen University

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture
and Opening Lecture of the 2019-2020 Human Geography Master Programme

Wednesday 04.09.2019, 17:30-18:45, Theatre Hall C, on the ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
(free entrance)

Prof. Jürgen Hasse, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany (

Urbanity – between atmospheres and moods

Abstract: Urbanity has architectural, physical and other structural presuppositions. Above all, it has a performative dimension. This is cognitively dispositioned by what people decide to do and to be. But it is also affectively tuned by what people do practically (often enough against better knowledge). The gestures of symbolic interaction follow the path of bodily communication, just exceptionally in words. So quarters are silently marked as exclusive spaces. Through gestural action (usually not through an action) others are integrated into the common or affectively excluded. The body of the city is formed performatively – and not as a result of intelligent planning – it owes its success to its performativity and will constitute a collage of urban “bodily islands”. The public space of the city is tuned on the background of both stative and actual situations. These tuning powers give rise to atmospheres that give a feeling of urbanity in the form of moods and suggest specific milieu qualities. What happens in the seismic field of the urban is essentially directed d controlled by feelings. What are the media of their communication? With regard to research, finally the question will arise how one can talk about feelings.

Thursday, 05.09.2019, 12:30-14:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Seminar with Prof. Jürgen Hasse about Methods to investigate Atmospheres

Friday, 06.09.2019, 10:30-12:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Prof. Jürgen Hasse

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture

Monday 30.09.2019, 17:30-18:45, Former Chapel in the Bergmanianum, Houtlaan 4, NL-6525XZ Nijmegen
(free entrance)

Prof. Tonino Griffero, Università di Roma “Tor Vergata”, Italy (

“Genoa for us”: Urban atmospheres and felt-bodily resonances

Abstract: The urban atmosphere is the polysensorial-amodal “skin” of the city. Inspired by a pathic aesthetics and the New Phenomenology, but also freely using here a Paolo Conte’s song (quoted in the title) as an example, my lecture focuses on the aesthetic-phenomenological notion of “atmosphere” and its key-role in architecture and urban life. It aims, first of all, at investigating what the immersive impression of a city consists of, secondly at de-axiologising the notion of urban atmosphere in order to better understand what its “authority” is, thirdly at explaining on which form of felt-bodily communication and resonance it is based. It would be necessary, finally, to criticize the usual idea according to which an urban atmosphere must necessarily mean either an organicistic familiarity or an avant-garde subversion of the social space.

Tuesday, 01.10.2019, 12:30-14:15, Room EOS N 01.740 first floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Seminar with Prof. Tonino Griffero

Wednesday, 02.10.2019, 10:30-12:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Prof. Tonino Griffero

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture

Monday 14.10.2019, 17:30-18:45, Former Chapel in the Bergmanianum, Houtlaan 4, NL-6525XZ Nijmegen
(free entrance)

Steve Davies, Project for Public Spaces (PPS), New York, USA (

Creating “Market Cities”: Leveraging the power of public markets as public spaces

Abstract: There are thousands if not millions of fresh food public markets around the world that link urban and rural communities and economies.  These markets take many forms – from open-air, mobile markets to permanent market halls to entire market districts.  This lecture will focus on the economic and social value these often under-valued markets bring as fulcrum points for fostering active and inclusive public space in cities, while also promoting job creation, economic development, positive social networks, safe and nurturing public spaces, and access to affordable, fresh and healthy foods.  Case studies of market transformations will illustrate the value public markets can bring to communities, using examples from the United States and, by contrast, from Hanoi, Vietnam.
This lecture will also introduce the concept of “Market Cities”, a new vision for public markets at a city-wide scale. Market Cities make holistic assessments of all their market systems to develop supportive policies and leverage market assets to promote job opportunities, economic development, active public spaces, and community health. Urban market systems in the 21st century can be vital centres of exchange connecting rural and urban environments and places that anchor local culture and social life for all residents. Barcelona is perhaps the best example of a modern Market City. They have an incredibly thriving network of around 43 permanent public markets serving 73 neighbourhoods

Monday, 14.10.2019, 08:30-12:00, City Hall, Burgerzaal, Korte Nieuwstraat 6, NL-6511PP Nijmegen on-location seminar in which we, together with Steve Davies, will evaluate the public market as public space.

During this three hour seminar, participants will visit and evaluate an existing market in Nijmegen while it is operating.  Ideally, a location near the market should be identified for this seminary to take place.  There will be a short introductory presentation about how to evaluate public markets as public spaces, followed by a group field trip to the market.  Using the Project for Public Spaces, Market Place Audit, participants will work in small groups of 2 or 3 people to evaluate the market using the audit form.  Returning to the workshop site, they will work in small groups (combining 2 or three teams) to summarise the key results of their findings and then present them to the full group for discussion.  Management of the market can be invited to participate in the seminar as well and can add additional depth of understanding about how it functions.

Tuesday, 15.10.2019, 12:30-14:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Steve Davies

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture

Monday 11.11.2019, 17:00-18:30, Room Gaia 1+2, Gaia Building Droevendaalsesteeg 3, NL-6708PB Wageningen Campus (Public transport: bus 84 or 88 from Ede-Wageningen station, stop ‘Campus/Atlas’)
(free entrance)

Prof. Janine Dahinden, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland (

‘De-centring’ research on transnational integration and diversities? Theoretical and methodological explorations of small locations at the ‘outskirts of Europe’

Abstract: Research on the transnationalisation of social realities and the diversification of populations through mobility and migration has mainly focused on global (or smaller) cities embedded in neo-liberal economies. While these studies contribute important insights into the ways diversity is structured, lived and organised in urban spaces, they also have limitations. First, transformations outside urban centres, in places shaped by different scales of local and transnational dynamics remain largely ignored. Second, many of these studies are based on ethnicity- or nation-centred epistemologies. Third, and in line with the theme of this Alexander von Humboldt lecture series, the role of affects in living diversity has been neglected. Consequently, I argue that this field of research would benefit from theoretical and methodological ‘de-centring’. Based on an ongoing research project, I propose to study questions of transnational mobilities and diversification at the scale of small localities – villages, conglomerations of villages, or valleys at the outskirt of Europe. In addition, I apply a ‘de-naturalised’ and ‘de-migranticised’ research design to address the issues at stake. I demonstrate how small localities constitute “micro-laboratories” of human experience. Their limited spatial extension and small populations offer original and in-depth insights to mobility configurations and the ensuing diversification, boundary- and place-making. Exploring how diversity is produced, how it is socially and affectively organised and lived – locally and transnationally – at the outskirt of Europe advances the theorisation of transnational integration and diversities.

Monday, 11.11.2019, 13:00–15:00, Location Wageningen, t.b.a.
Wageningen: workshop on ‘de-migranticizing’ of  our thinking about small international towns with Prof. Janine Dahinden

Wednesday, 13.11.2019, 10:30-12:15, Room EOS N 01.750 first floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Prof. Janine Dahinden

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture

Monday 09.12.2019, 17:30-18:45, Theatre Hall C, on the ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
(free entrance)

Prof. Sophie Watson, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK (

City Water matters: Cultures, Practices and Entanglements of Urban Water

Abstract: Public Urban Spaces come in many different forms and modes and perform through many different media as an urban atmosphere. Urban Water, as one aspect of public urban space, is theorised in many different registers and through many different frames:  crisis, infrastructure, symbol, culture, politics, management and delivery, consumption, the economic and the social. Each of these spheres are interconnected and related and not easily disentangled. Water is emblematic of the powerful interconnections between human/non-human, and nature and culture, where these entanglements are in a constant process of transforming cityscapes and landscapes, which in turn produce new waterscapes and manifestations of the ‘natural world’.  Water has the capacity to make things happen, to bring new socialities and publics into being. Water is an intrinsic part of everyday life, often invisible in its workings and taken for granted, only entering public discourse and visibility when it becomes a matter of concern. Water is deeply political, implicated in relations of power and constitutive of social, cultural and spatial differences. Water is highly contested both as a resource and a site of complex meanings. This talk argues for the importance of water as a cultural object, and as a source of complex meanings and practices in everyday life, embedded in the socio-economics of local water provision which has the capacity to assemble publics and constitute multiple differences.

Tuesday, 10.12.2019, 12:30-14:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Seminar with Prof. Sophie Watson

Wednesday, 11.12.2019, 10:30-12:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Prof. Sophie Watson

Alexander von Humboldt Lecture

Monday 13.01.2020, 16:00-17:30, Room Gaia 1+2, Gaia Building Droevendaalsesteeg 3, NL-6708PB Wageningen Campus (Public transport: bus 84 or 88 from Ede-Wageningen station, stop ‘Campus/Atlas’)
(free entrance)

Prof. Ben Anderson, Durham University, UK (

Capitalism and Affective Change: A Geohistory of Boredom

Abstract: Public Spaces can contribute to affective change, but to understand affective change it is worthwhile to also look at other occasions and contexts, e.g.: What is boredom today? Does the boredom of regimented, linear time, of machine-led factory conditions and administrative procedures and timetables, still exist? Have new boredoms emerged alongside the other public moods which compose a troubled present frequently characterised under the sign of precarity and subject to the emergence of various populisms of the left and right? In this lecture, I offer a geohistory of boredom in the midst of laments and celebrations that in the wake of the collapse of distinctions between work and life, and as life is digitally mediated and, for some, felt in burnout and other affects of frenzy, boredom has disappeared. Through examples of the settling of boredom in relation to punk music, productivity apps, unemployment, Brexit, and the gig economy, amongst others, I stay with boredom to reflect on the challenges of theorising and researching affective change. How to connect changes in what is felt, by whom and how to the dynamics of capitalism and other always-already affective social-spatial formations?

Tuesday, 14.01.2020, 14:00-16:00, Koepelgevangenis ‘De Berg’, Wilhelminastraat 16, NL-6812CW Arnhem
Arnhem former prison seminar. The Arnhem prison, built according to the classic Bentham panopticon design in 1886, had been in operation as a prison until 2016. We will do a guided tour and have a discussion on site with Prof. Ben Anderson, exploring boredom, incarceration and affect. with Prof. Ben Anderson
Participation is free of charge, but please register with

Wednesday, 15.01.2020, 10:30-12:15, Ulbo de Sitter room, ground floor of the Elinor Ostrom building, Heyendaalseweg 141, NL-6525AJ Nijmegen
Research colloquium of researchers of Radboud University, and Wageningen University, presenting their work to Prof. Ben Anderson