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Lauren Antonides wins Roggeveen thesis prize

Alumna Lauren Antonides has won the Roggeveen Prize for her thesis on the regional identity of Zeelandic Flanders. She will receive a sum of 1,000 euros.

For her History master’s thesis on ‘Politics, Culture and National Identities’, Lauren delved into Zeelandic Flanders (Dutch: Zeeuws-Vlaanderen) of the 1970s and 1980s, when the province of Zeeland was emerging as a tourist destination. ‘The border region of Zeelandic Flanders presented itself as a counterpart to massive seaside resorts like nearby Knokke,’ she explains. ‘It was supposed to be an authentic beach destination with a unique Flemish hinterland. In the same period, however, new types of border tourism developed, which heightened emotions among residents.’

The rise of nude recreation and sex shops on the border sparked debates about the negative impact of tourism. ‘It highlighted the  differences with neighbouring Belgium. My thesis shows that the “borderless Flemish” identity in Zeelandic Flanders was not undisputed, but rather that different conceptions of region and nation developed. Sometimes these overlapped, and at other times they contradicted each other.’

Corona and the archives

Lauren’s research was hampered considerably by corona. ‘I was dependent on local archives, so corona was a particularly complicated factor. With help from great staff at the Zeeland Archives and the Sluis Municipal Archives, I was still able to access the records digitally, which involved scanning hundreds of documents. What really struck me was the effort made to keep this history accessible and alive. That inspired me enormously in the writing process.’

About the prize

The Roggeveen Prize is an initiative of the Cultural History Working Group (WCH) of the Royal Zeeland Society of Sciences. The prize is awarded every two years to the best thesis and research paper on Zeeland's cultural history.

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