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Heritage studies research group

The Heritage Studies research group is internationally prominent. It conducts interdisciplinary, innovative research into the spatial dimensions of heritage in cultural landscapes. Together, historical geographers, landscape archaeologists, cultural and architectural historians and heritage scientists study the history and future of the city and the country.

Our researchers have repeatedly been awarded large international grants and lead or participate in extensive European projects. We nurture an extensive network of fellow academics and work closely with designers, urban planners and landscape architects, as well as administrative experts, economists and IT specialists. Our network also includes governments, companies, associations and other public and private partners. Together, we explore how we can use heritage to make the world more sustainable and social.

Education
The researchers coordinate the heritage education of the master's in Heritage Studies at the VU, which is unique in the Netherlands and internationally. This is an interdisciplinary and international master's programme for archaeologists, architectural historians, (historical) geographers, historians, policy-makers and designers (planners, architects, landscape architects and urban planners). The programme introduces students to the main principles of the historical study of the landscape and the city, to contemporary heritage care and to the current treatment of the cultural-historical values of objects and spaces in our environment.

We also coordinate the minor Erfgoed en Ruimte (Spatial Heritage), in close cooperation with Reinwardt Academie, the Amsterdam programme for applied Heritage Studies. This joint package of 30 ECTS is unique in the Netherlands and offers students the chance to get acquainted with current heritage challenges in academia and the professional field.  

Areas of interest/methods
The research group distinguishes itself nationally and internationally with a unique profile, characterised by the combination of innovative historical research and a future-oriented design and planning perspective.  In particular, we look at the relationship between (world) heritage and major social and spatial challenges, such as climate adaptation, migration, multiculturalism and democratisation. In doing so, we use a variety of concepts, methods and techniques, from landscape biography and citizen participation to digital, geographical information systems and 3D.

Institutional embedding
Our research is housed within the interdisciplinary, interfaculty research institute CLUE+, which stands for the history and heritage of Cultural Landscape and Urban Environment. Our group is responsible for edits and writes books and articles and publishes its own scientific publication series, Landscape and Heritage Studies (Amsterdam University Press) and leads the Journal of European Landscapes.

Projects

HERILAND. CULTURAL HERITAGE AND THE PLANNING OF EUROPEAN LANDSCAPES. This project focuses on the relationship between heritage management and spatial planning and design. The project is led by the heritage team of the Vrije Universiteit (EU H2020 Marie Curie ITN, 4M. EUR, 21 partners, coordination Prof. Dr. Gert-jan Burgers).

FIRESCAPES: Towards an interdisciplinary understanding of wildfire risk mitigation in the Dutch landscape. In this project, we want to map this knowledge gap on the relationship between wildfires, wildfire risk reduction and mitigation measures and the ecological, cultural and political values of the Dutch landscape. We will conduct a pilot study of the Veluwe and connect with land managers and policy makers in the area. Finally, we aim to integrate the project within our different bachelor and master teaching programmes. Research Team: Dr Linde Egberts, Dr Evelien de Hoop, Assistant Professor Health and Sustainability at the Athena Institute, Dr Marleen de Ruiter, Assistant Professor, Water & Climate Risk, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Dr Sander Veraverbeke, Associate Professor Climate & Ecosystems Change, Faculty of Science.

Accessing Campscapes. Inclusive Strategies for Using European Conflicted Heritage. (iC-ACCESS. HERA Call 'Uses of the Past', 1.2M. EUR, 14 partners, led by Prof. Dr. Rob van der Laarse) This project considers traces of twentieth century mass destruction and terror as tangible reminders of the 'age of extremes'.

Exploded View. Exploded View is an artistic research project financed by the Mondriaan Fund and the Amsterdam Fund for the Arts (1,5K Euro, project leaders Gert-Jan Burgers and Krien Clevis). It invites makers and thinkers from different disciplines to investigate urban landscapes in transition from the perspective of their heritage history.

Collaborators Heritage Studies

Professors and scientific collaborators
Gert-Jan Burgers is professor of Heritage Studies at the Vrije Universiteit. He is also director of CLUE+, the interfaculty research institute for Culture, Cognition, History and Heritage, and project leader of the pan-European Innovative Training Network Heriland. Before that, he was director of the Royal Dutch Institute in Rome (2012-2013) and head of the Heritage and Antiquities departments of the same institute (2006-2013). In these capacities, Burgers has developed, led and published a series of major heritage projects over the past decades, with funding from national and international public organisations, including NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research), Italian government agencies and the European Union, as well as commercial sponsors.

Linde Egberts is assistant professor of Heritage Studies at the VU. She trained as a social geographer and cultural historian at Utrecht University and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she defended her PhD thesis Chosen Legacies in 2015. Her research interests are in the areas of heritage, identity, regions, landscape, tourism and identity. Linde is coordinator of the Landscape and Heritage programme of the interfaculty VU research institute CLUE+ and has several international research projects to her name. She combines her research efforts with coordinating the Master's programme in Heritage Studies at the VU, giving courses on spatial heritage and transformations and supervising dissertations and theses in the same field.

Marilena Mela (MSc), lecturer and PhD student
Marilena Mela studied architecture in Athens and Florence, and holds a diploma in Architectural Engineering and a Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Research from the National Technical University of Athens. As a practising architect, she has worked with award-winning architecture studios in Seville and Athens, focusing on the design of cultural and urban projects. She is currently a PhD candidate as a Marie Curie Fellow at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where she participates in the HERILAND research project on the planning of European landscapes. Her PhD research explores the politics of spatial planning in multiple European landscapes, building on the intertwining of official and social understandings of heritage.

Rob van der Laarse is endowed professor of War Heritage (Westerbork Chair) at the humanities faculties of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Rob has led several leading national and international heritage projects. He currently heads the Cultural Studies department at the UvA.

Hans Renes is emeritus professor of Heritage and Space at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He initially held this position within the interuniversity research and education network Heritage and Space, an initiative of the national government. Renes is the author of numerous publications in the field of historical geography and heritage of Europe.

Nico Roymans, is emeritus professor of Northwest European archaeology at the VU. His research interests include the social organisation of societies in the late Iron Age, the archaeology of Celto-Germanic societies and their integration into the Roman world, ethnicity and ethnogenesis in the Roman Empire, and the archaeology of mass violence and genocide in antiquity. He acquired and directed 8 major research projects, each with several subprojects for PhD students and/or postdocs.

Internal PhD candidates
Alana Castro de Azevedo, Barriers to public participation in memorialization processes. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers. Co-promotor: dr. P. Wagenaar.

Marta Ducci, Disappearing Landscapes. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers. Co-promotor: dr. R. Jansen.

Marilena Mela, From territories to landscapes. Spatial planning and heritage stories in European lands. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers, co-promotor: dr. L. R. Egberts.

Maciej Swiderski, Gamification strategies for collaborative heritage planning. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers, co-promotor: dr. N. van Manen

Nana Zheng, The Constraints of Community Heritage Discourse. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers, co-promotor: dr. P. Wagenaar.

External PhD candidates
Paul van den Brink, Toeristische kartografie, Promotor: Prof dr. Hans Renes, co-promotor: prof. dr. Jan Hein Furnée (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen).

Thomas van den Brink, Maritime Mindsets, Product-chains and Landscapes, Promotores: prof. dr. Carola Hein (TU Delft), prof. dr. Hans Renes and prof. dr. Ulbe Bosma.

Marc Buise, Linies Oost-Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Promotor: prof. dr. J. Renes, co-promotor: prof. dr. A. de Kraker.

Jos Cuijpers, Een methodisch onderzoek naar het historische landschap rond Lith. Promotor: prof. dr. J. Renes, co-promotor: prof. dr. J. Kolen.

Carlo De Mitri, From Coast to Coast: Social and Commercial Networks in the Adriatic Sea. Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers

Kaylee Good, Comparative Nationalist Narratives Theatricalizing the Parthenon Marbles in the Acropolis Museum and the British Museum. Promotor: prof. dr. G.J. Burgers

Mireille Dosker, Erfgoed en natuurbeheer, Supervisor: prof. J. Renes
Marc Jansen, Functieverandering in de Utrechtse binnenstad. Supervisor: prof. J. Renes; co-supervisors dr. R. de Bruin and dr. C. Lesger (University of Amsterdam)

Els van der Laan, Legenda van de landschapsstijl, Promotores: Eric Luiten (TU Delft) en prof. dr. J. Renes, co-promotor: Marie-Therese van Thoor (TU Delft).

David Koren, Koloniaal erfgoed, Promotores: Prof. dr. Jan Kolen (Leiden University) and prof. dr. J. Renes.

Karin Stadhouders, Interstitial Wastelands. Promotor: Prof. dr. J. Kolen (Leiden University), co-promotores: dr. L.R. Egberts and prof. dr. Joks Janssen.

Ilona Venderbos, Gendered identitities in Italy (9th to 6th century BC). Promotor: prof. G.J. Burgers.

Maarten Vieveen, Paradigm shift heritage, Promotores: prof. dr. J. Janssen (Tilburg University) and prof. J. Renes.

Martin Woestenburg, Foodscapes Europe. Promotores: prof. J. Renes, prof. dr. Ir. H. Wiskerke (Wageningen University and Research).