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Historian Frank van Vree is the new Cleveringa Professor

Frank van Vree, Emeritus Professor of War, Conflict and Memory Studies at the University of Amsterdam (UVA), is the new Cleveringa Professor at Leiden University this year. In his inaugural lecture on 27 November, entitled The Ritualisation of the Past. On the ‘Lesson of History’ for the Present, he will talk about the tension between learning from the past and remembering the past.

Van Vree has the following to say about his Cleveringa chair next academic year, ‘It’s a real honour to be appointed, in light of the important tradition of the chair but also given the impressive list of predecessors. It is also special to be able to speak on the spot where I defended my dissertation 35 years ago.’

His inaugural lecture in the Great Auditorium in the Academy Building will be about the tension between scholarship and remembrance. ‘I will specifically address the idea that you can learn from the past. The question is what that “learning” actually entails and whether academic knowledge plays a role in this or not.’

Frank van Vree

Frank van Vree was Director of the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) from 2016 to 2021. Before that, he was Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UvA (2012-2016) and Professor of Media Studies (2001-2016). He was at the inception of the Department of Media Studies and the Journalism programme at UvA. He has previously held the Media History chair at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

This year’s Cleveringa Lecture will be held on Monday 27 November from 16.00 to 17.00 hrs. at the Academy Building, Rapenburg 73, Leiden. (This is because 26 November is on a Sunday this year.) The inaugural lecture can be watched online (live) that afternoon at universiteitleiden.nl

More information about Frank van Vree and the theme of his Cleveringa Lecture will follow in an interview this autumn.

Every year on (or around) 26 November, the university commemorates the protest speech given by Leiden law professor Rudolph Cleveringa in 1940. On that day, Cleveringa spoke out in a public lecture against the dismissal of his Jewish colleague Eduard Meijers. After the speech, Cleveringa was arrested by the German occupiers and Meijers was deported first to Westerbork and then to Theresienstadt concentration camp, where he would survive the war. Other Leiden professors including law professor Ben Telders, physician Ton Barge and theologian Lambert van Holk also openly protested against the Nazis. Of these professors, Telders did not survive the war.

The Cleveringa Chair is a one-year rotating professorship that symbolises the importance of free speech and the courage to stand up to occupiers. A motto that suits the university (Bastion of Freedom) like no other. Every year, the university commemorates the victims of the Second World War – at least 663 students, staff and alumni lost their lives.

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