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This was 2022! An overview of Humanities in the news

After two years of corona restrictions, it was ‘back to normal’ in 2022. Migration, elections, the history of slavery, Russia, and Ukraine were much-discussed topics. We compiled an overview of the most-read news items and other events of the past year.

Dutch kabinet on the famed stairs with the King

January | A fifth of the cabinet ‘Rutte IV’ studied in Leiden

The new cabinet has finally taken office. Six of its members studied in Leiden, once again making the University a key supplier to the cabinet. Who are these alumni?


February | ‘Putin wants to be taken seriously’

André Gerrits explains, because suddenly there they were, the Russian soldiers near the border of Ukraine. Since then, reports of tensions between Russia on the one hand and the United States and Europe on the other have dominated the news. What is going on?

Baby with toy on the foreground, woman next to a bed in the background.

March| Babies might not be able to learn language rules after all

For two decades, language experts were certain that babies were able to learn language rules from as young as the age of seven months. However, recent research carried out by a consortium of four Dutch baby labs led by researchers from Leiden cast doubts on this certainty. Andreea Geambașu, Sybren Spit and Claartje Levelt tell us more about the study and the next steps.

Women and children from Ukrain carrying bags and suitcases.

April | Students of Russian Studies use language skills to help Ukrainian refugees

What started as a call for help in a Facebook group turned into a permanent group of students from the Bachelor's in Russian Studies and the Master's in Russian and Eurasian Studies who regularly help the Ukrainian refugees. They act as the link between the refugees and aid workers at various reception centres.

Thierry Baudet looks on his phone in the parliament hall.

May | FVD politicians amplify anti-Semitism on Twitter

Politicians from Forum voor Democratie (FVD) regularly retweet anti-Semitic accounts. They therefore promote players from a social media network in which anti-Semitism is commonplace. This ranges from conspiracy theories about George Soros to hate speech about Jewish people drinking children’s blood. These are the results of an analysis by Nieuwscheckers and Textgain.

City street view Belarus

June | Belarus is the only Russian ally left in Europe

While all European nations have condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is one country Russia can still count on: Belarus. Russia even used its territory as a stepping stone for the invasion. We spoke with Matthew Frear to shed light on the country's strategy and its loyalty to Russia.

Three young women with a hijab talking and laughing

July | What can Europe learn from Islamic thought?

Islamic banking, freedom of religion, LGBTQ+ acceptance and education are topics that European Muslims find important for their future. Maurits Berger works together with muslims for this citizen science project: ‘For long Muslims have been put in a defensive position. Now we have the opportunity to show what Muslims have to contribute.’

Taipai skyline at twilight

August | What causes the tensions between China and Taiwan?

For a while, it was uncertain whether prominent American politician Nancy Pelosi would travel to Taiwan. But last Tuesday, she did visit – much to the displeasure of China. Casper Wits explains why China reacted so strongly and what the consequences of the visit may be.

Crowds wave flags at a political rally

September | Why is it now that the Left has momentum in Latin America

The left is gaining more and more ground on the political map of Latin America, with the elections in Colombia as the most recent example. But what’s behind this pull to the left? Patricio Silva talks about the current political situation in the region.

Photo of the hall where the debate took place. In the back, people are sitting in rows. In the front, four presenters and on panelist on a projector through a video call.

October | World Cup Qatar: Boycott it or seize opportunity for attention?

The FIFA World Cup will get underway in Qatar this November – an event that has attracted much discussion in recent years. This discussion is not only centred on sport. Human rights are in the spotlights in Qatar. Experts from various disciplines join a debate about the event. 

Rishi Sunak walks to the stand for his first speech as the UK prime minister.

November | How is the economic and political turmoil affecting Britons?

These are turbulent times in the UK. The cost of living is high, leaving many people struggling to make ends meet, and these past few months have been tumultuous in terms of politics. Anne Heyer explains what impact this can have on people's political perceptions and participation.

Photo of the slavery monument in Rotterdam. There are four figures dancing towars freedom on a stylized ship. The first person is still in chains while the last one has broken free.

December | ‘Cabinet created its own problem by rushing in’

The excuses for the slavery past? It would have been better if the cabinet had taken some more time on that, thinks university lecturer and Atlantic slavery expert Karwan Fatah-Black. ‘Too bad they didn’t wait for the results of the study.’

This was a selection of the more than 500 news items about the Faculty of Humanities published this year. Want to read more? Then check this page for the full news overview. The faculty editors would like to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication. Happy holidays and here’s to a year full of new stories!

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