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Juliette de Wit, Femke Cnossen and Maite Laméris receive YAG grant

08 May 2024
Juliette de Wit (left), Maite Laméris (centre) and Femke Cnossen (right)

Juliette de Wit, Femke Cnossen and Maite Laméris have received a YAG Grant of € 6,000 for an interdisciplinary project on the long-lasting socio-economic consequences of the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’ in the Netherlands. The grant enables them to explore ways to work with historical data from the Dutch National Archives that has recently been digitized and published. Using this dataset, they aim to understand the long-lasting effects of the Arbeitseinsatz on future generations and communities, for instance in their civic engagement.

Juliette de Wit is an assistant professor and Maite Laméris a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Economics and Business’ Department of Global Economics & Management, and Femke Cnossen is an assistant professor at the University of Groningen’s Faculty of Spatial Sciences (Department of Economic Geography). All three obtained their PhD at FEB in the past five years. In their project, ‘The long-lasting consequences of the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’, they will use recently digitized and published archival information on forced labour and deportations in the Netherlands during WWII. By using geo-coded information, their research focuses on the regional variation in exposure to forced labour and combines this with recent data on economic and societal outcomes.

The Arbeitseinsatz

During WWII, about half a million Dutch men were forced to work in Germany. Known as the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’, all men aged 17-40 were at risk of being called and forced to work for the occupier. The Arbeitseinsatz had significant consequences for the communities that were left behind. Refusal of the call resulted in reprisals or violent arrestations, yet obedience to the call would often result in heavy work under sometimes dangerous circumstances. Thousands of men who obeyed the call lost their lives during deployment in Germany. Of the men that returned, many suffered physical and/or mental health issues that left their mark on future generations.

Collective trauma

The Arbeitseinsatz is an underexposed aspect of WWII, but is receiving more attention in recent years. The project by De Wit, Laméris and Cnossen is one of the first to explore whether within-country differences in, and the intergenerational transmission of, collective trauma caused by the Arbeitseinsatz has long-term consequences on society. The researchers build on recent work that shows the importance of historical events for contemporary socio-economic outcomes, such as trust or civic engagement. De Wit, Laméris and Cnossen hope this project will be the beginning of a promising line of research and a lasting interdisciplinary bond between the involved institutes and researchers, which includes Tobias Grohmann, a former PhD student at FEB. De Wit: “We will follow up on the project by continuing our collaboration and exploring possibilities to, for example, link the resulting dataset to other existing contemporary datasets and extend the analyses to other EU countries exposed to the Arbeitseinsatz. Our project may also motivate investigations into other aspects and consequences of WWII and their long-term effects on individual behaviour.”

About the YAG grant

The Young Academy Groningen (YAG) firmly believes in the importance of interdisciplinary research to be able to respond to the challenges of our complex world. Diversity of disciplines will boost research and education. As such, the YAG observed that there were no low threshold funds available for exploratory, interdisciplinary research, education, or impact creation at the UG (or external). Based on its successful experiences with interdisciplinary projects, the YAG therefore set up an initiative to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration between employees of different faculties through so-called ‘Interdisciplinary seed grants’. The aim of the YAG-SER grant is to develop innovative ideas or gauge the feasibility of an idea. It is designed to be a step towards a larger project, such as an application for substantial funding from an external funder, a new teaching track, new modes of instruction, or the formation of a large-scale consortium to work on a new theme with internal and external partners.

For more information, or potential collaborations, please contact Juliette de Wit.

Last modified:19 June 2024 11.24 a.m.

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