Society and cultural history

For over three thousand years, large numbers of people have been living and working in the Wadden Sea Region. In addition, this region has been used intensively and in various ways by visitors.The socio-political debate on how to care for the Wadden Sea Region is to a large extent dominated by questions about compatibility of human use of the region with preservation of the Wadden Sea Area as a nature reserve. In order to resolve these problems, more insight is needed into the perspective of residents and visitors.

The cultural historical and social science research for the Wadden Sea Region is sparse and moreover fragmented. This is a field of research which until today has received little attention within the Wadden Sea Region. In general, it is not oriented towards the knowledge demands that exist among the various groups involved: an internal scientific agenda predominates. The influence of the humanities and social sciences on policy-making is almost non-existent. These research areas have to be emancipated because the question as to 'what works' in establishing a sustainable future for the Wadden Sea Area cannot and should not be answered solely in terms of technical tools. This is definitely also a socio-cultural issue.

Knowledge gaps and research needs are related to:

  • the way in which people developed their way of life over time and how they used the natural resources that the region offered;
  • the nature and interaction of 'wild memory' and disciplined history in the Wadden Sea Region;
  • the historical development of the way in which the Wadden Sea Region is represented and valued; and
  • the social and political organisation of a just and sustainable future for the Wadden Sea Region.

The Society and cultural history portfolio is held by dr. Meindert Schroor.