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26.10 - Assignment

Collective Brief


Our subject is the people affected by the creation of the Afsluitdijk in 1932. The closing off 3700km2 of sea and pumping dry 2300km2 of sea bottom created Ijsselmeer (Wolff, 1992, pg. 289). The dam was built to reclaim land and protect the area from storm surges. It turned fishermen into farmers and their wives into factory workers. There is little information about environmental considerations like losing wetlands to agriculture (Wolff, 1992), the lack of political representation that the people on “reclaimed land” had, the liberal economics at play, the role of the state, land ownership, or the socio-economic experiments like eugenical selection processes that took place in this “reclaimed land” (Van De Grift, 2013).


Departing from the concept of ruralism, we narrowed down towards the Ijsselmeer region. With counter-visuality, the role of museums in keeping culture alive is indisputable but they should give space to critical opinion making. We want to present a counternarrative to the one in the Zuiderzee Museum.


Exploring the fishing villages around Ijsselmeer to show counter narratives around the changes in livelihood and tradition produced by the Afsluitdijk.  


Our goal for now is to present a counternarrative of the Zuiderzee. We keep the archival references but talk about what is not said. We want to make visible hidden stories, whilst allowing the audience to adopt critical attitudes and weave their own stories into that one of the Zuiderzee.


Van De Grift, L. “On New Land a New Society: Internal Colonisation in the Netherlands, 1918–1940.” Contemporary European History, vol. 22, no. 4, Cambridge UP, Oct. 2013, pp. 609–26. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0960777313000386.

Van Der Ham, Willem. Hoor, Hoor, De Dijk Is Dicht: De Zuiderzee in Beeld, Films En Verhalen. Amsterdam UP, 2022.

Wikipedia-bijdragers. “Zuiderzeewerken.” Wikipedia, 15 Sept. 2023, nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuiderzeewerken.  

Wolff, Wim J. “The End of a Tradition: 1000 Years of Embankment and Reclamation of Wetlands in the Netherlands.” Ambio, vol. 21, no. 4, 1992, p. 289. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4313944.