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Economic and Social History Blog

59. The end… for the moment (10-6-2020)

The end… for the moment (10-6-2020)

Written by: Jan Luiten van Zanden

Perhaps it was having a beer with Pim at Hofman’s last week. Somehow it felt that the ‘long’ exile was over, and that things were returning to normal again. And at the same time the drive, the urge, to write a blog every day, to start the day with writing a small story about our esh-world, vanished. It suddenly became hard work to turn one of the ideas I had listed into a blog. The original plan was to write 100 blogs, for all days that our ‘exile’ lasted (I assumed that in September things would return to normal) but 63 is also a nice number.

It was a special Spring. This morning, on my bike, I realized that Spring was almost over – the first flocks of lapwings indicated that they had finished breeding – with or, more likely, without success. It was almost as if nature opened itself, trying to compensate for the ‘closing’ of society. We saw birds breeding which we had never spotted before (in the Netherlands) – little ringed plovers, stilts, long-eared owls (thanks to Joost), and much more.  But it was also a Spring without singing, without the Mattheus.

But first and foremost it was a season without you, without the normal, day to day contacts about work, football, politics, and the admirable qualities of the UU. Our little social community suddenly ‘dissolved’, and had to find another modus operandi, and as we were unprepared to this shock, that has been a bit of a search process.

I wrote the blogs for a number of reasons. I enjoyed writing about the history of nature, birds especially, and give you a few sneak previews of the book we are writing about that topic. Most blogs were about more ‘traditional’ topics in our field – I wanted to cover the broad spectrum of topics that I am working on or interested in, to show you that there are hardly limits to the field that we study. And it was an attempt to put into practice the advice I gave at the last meeting about the mission of our group, when I mentioned the importance of ‘big stories’ for our discipline.

It was a real pleasure to write for you!

Jan Luiten

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