18 Jan 2017: Utrecht Historical Lecture

Wednesday 18  January 2017, 3.15-5pm, Raadzaal, Pietershof, Achter Sint Pieter 200

Ian Buruma (Paul W. Williams Professor of Human Rights and Journalism, Bard College),
Title: A return to normality? Jews, English, Dutch and Germans in 1945

The twentieth century is a most violent period, yet its impact has been very different for different groups in society. Ever since his study The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Japan and Germany (Farrar, Straus, Giroux,1995), Ian Buruma has reflected on the various ways in which societies – notably societies of perpetrators of violence – have dealt with the cruelties of the past and the present. In his two most recent books, Buruma has focused on the personal experiences of people in war. In Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War (Penguin USA, 2016), Buruma analyzes the experiences of an assimilated Jewish family in England between 1915 and 1945, through the eyes and letters of his maternal grandparents. In Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Penguin USA, 2013), Buruma depicts the varieties of despair and revenge, as well as the glimmers of hope in the final year of the Second World War. In this meeting, Buruma will engage in a discussion with the audience on his approach to the personal and social history of war and violence in the twentieth century.

Ian Buruma is Paul W. Williams Professor of Democracy, Human Rights, and Journalism at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and has been a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg, Berlin, the Woodrow Wilson Center, Washington D.C., St. Antony’s College, Oxford, and Remarque Institute, NYU. Buruma was educated in Holland and Japan, where he studied history, Chinese literature, and Japanese cinema. In 1970s Tokyo, he acted in Kara Juro’s Jokyo Gekijo and participated in Maro Akaji’s butoh dancing company Dairakudakan, followed by a career in documentary filmmaking and photography. In the 1980s, he worked as a journalist, and spent much of his early writing career travelling and reporting from all over Asia. Buruma now writes about a broad range of political and cultural subjects for major publications, most frequently for The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Guardian, La Repubblica, NRC Handelsblad. He was Cultural Editor of The Far Eastern Economic Review, Hong Kong (1983-86) and Foreign Editor of The Spectator, London (1990-91). Buruma was awarded many academic and public prizes, and was voted as one of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals by the Foreign Policy/Prospect magazines in 2008, and in 2010. He published among other books: Anglomania: a European Love Affair (Random House, 1999); Inventing Japan: 1853-1964 (Modern Library Chronicles, 2003); Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemies (Penguin USA, 2004); Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo Van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance(Penguin USA, 2006, winner of The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for the Best Current Interest Book); Taming the Gods: Religion and Democracy on Three Continents (Princeton University Press, 2010); and Theater of Cruelty (NYRB, 2014).

For students who want to contribute to the discussion with Buruma on 18 January, a preparatory meeting is held on 12 January, 3.15-5.00PM (place tba). If you are interested, read Year Zero: A History of 1945 (Penguin USA, 2013) and/or Their Promised Land: My Grandparents in Love and War (Penguin USA, 2016), so that we can discuss which topics we want to address in our conversation with Buruma on 18 January. Please give notice of your participation in this preparatory meeting via i.dehaan@uu.nl.

Utrecht Historical Lecture Series 2016-2017

The Utrecht Historical Lecture Series 2016-2017 is organized by the Department of History and Art History of Utrecht University. It aims to contribute to the intellectual debate within and beyond the Department by presenting leading scholars in history, addressing pivotal debates in the various disciplines of the historical profession. Attendance is free; (Research) Master Students and PhDs, and Faculty from within the department and beyond are warmly invited to participate in the discussion. After every lecture drinks will be served. More information i.dehaan@uu.nl.


16 February 2017, 3.15-5p, place TBA

Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Division for Byzantine Research/Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Title: Empires as networks. Approaches towards the reconstruction and comparison of connectivity in pre-modern imperial formations


16 March 2017, 3.15-5pm, Raadzaal, Pietershof, Achter Sint Pieter 200

Martin Conway (Professor of Contemporary European History, Balliol College, Oxford University),

Title: Man-made politics? Masculinity and Politics in Europe, 1920-70


25 April 2017, 3.15-5pm, place TBA

Serena Ferente (Senior Lecturer in Medieval European History, King’s College London)

Title: Political passions in late medieval Italy: parties and elections


18 May 2017, 3.15-5pm, place TBA

Christopher Clark (Regius Professor of History, St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge),

Title: TBA


15 June 2017, 3.15-5pm, Kanunnikenzaal, Academiegebouw, Domplein 29

Mary Terrall (Professor of History, UCLA)

Title: Colonial Dreams: Michel Adanson’s Encounter with Africa in the 1750s (UCLA lecture)