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Ideals that live on

Joke Draaijer will be awarded a PhD for her research on Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt of Eerde (1889-1979)
17 September 2019
Joke Draaijer, Landgoed als leerschool, Biografie van Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1979) [The estate as school. Biography of Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1989)].

On 26 September, Joke Draaijer will be awarded a PhD following the publication of the biography Landgoed als leerschool, Biografie van Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1979) [The estate as school. Biography of Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1989)]. Through this work, not only is she making a contribution to the history of the nobility in the Netherlands, but she is also shining a light on the developments surrounding the ‘Order of the Star in the East’ in the Netherlands, led by the Indian Jiddu Krishnamurti. Draaijer was supervised by Prof. Yme Kuiper and Prof. Mirjam de Baar.

Joke Draaijer switched careers at the age of 41: in 2001, she started studying Religious Studies at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Science, which she completed in 2005. ‘I chose Groningen because the degree programme had a Spiritual Care specialization track. In the end I didn’t go down this route because I started to become interested in minor faiths in the Netherlands during the interwar period, in particular in the Order of the Star in the East headed by the Indian Jiddu Krishnamurti. Between 2005 and 2006 I did the Research Master (then still called a Top Master) because I wanted to write an academic biography of Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1979). Anyone who researches the Order of the Star is bound to come across him.’

Religion and Biography

‘In the years following, the Faculty launched the Religion and Biography research programme,' continues Joke. ‘It was led by Prof. Yme Kuiper and Prof. Mirjam de Baar. Kuiper has an established track record in the field of nobility studies and De Baar has written a lengthy biography (thesis) about Antoinette Bourignon. They were my PhD supervisors. I will defend my PhD thesis on 26 September 2019. My biography of Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde provides a snapshot of the times and is particularly interesting due to the lifestyles of the nobility and the developments in the field of noble landownership in the Netherlands during the 20th century. Krishnamurti, who I mentioned earlier, is also discussed in the biography. His teachings are still relevant today.’

Shining a light

With my biography, entitled Landgoed als leerschool, Biografie van Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt van Eerde (1889-1979), I hope to contribute to the history of the nobility in the Netherlands and to shine a light on the developments surrounding the Order of the Star in the East in the Netherlands in relation to the main character of my book. I particularly devote a lot of attention to the idealism of the protagonist, who held board positions in organizations such as the Dutch Scouting movement, Natuurmonumenten and Vogelbescherming. I delve deeper into his reputation and how he saw himself. I also discuss developments in the field of nature conservation in Salland.’

Estates as schools

Landgoed als leerschool is the first academic biography on the life of Philip Dirk baron van Pallandt and shows how he understood and processed the radical and dramatic developments that took place during his lifetime. Joke Draaijer explains: ‘Others have already done research on some aspects of Van Pallandts life, but they haven’t attempted to contextualize them or to identify common themes. This biography, which follows on from recent research in the field of nobility studies, describes his long life through the prism of four themes and aims to provide insights into the ways in which the protagonist adapted to changing circumstances during much of the 20th century. Philip himself described his ideals as the pursuit of a brotherhood, and he believed the Scouting movement could play a key role in that. He spread the ideas of Baden Powell (the founder of the Scouting movement) in the Netherlands and offered his estate, Eerde near Ommen, as a training centre for the Dutch Scouts.’

Theosophy, the Order of the Star and Krishnamurti

‘Through the Scouts, Philip came into contact with idealistic young people. In 1919, one of them introduced Philip to the board of the Dutch division of the Theosophical Society. In the same year, Philip met the young charismatic Indian Jiddu Krishnamurti in London. Theosophists saw him as their new world teacher. Krishnamurti was the Head of the Order of the Star in the East. This meeting led to Philip giving away all his possessions in Ommen in 1924 to the Eerde Foundation for the work of the new world teacher. After Krishnamurti broke away from the Theosophical Society and the Order of the Star in the East, in 1931 the Eerde Foundation returned to Philip his former possessions and he decided to sell them to conservation organizations.’

Ideals live on

Joke Draaijer: ‘Philip’s idealism was multi-layered and changed over time. Initially, he was primarily interested in a brotherhood of mankind; later on, his focus turned to nature and conservation. The common theme in his idealism lies in his efforts to help young people and the socially disadvantaged. On his Eerde estate, Philip finally freed himself from the old, noble world of aristocratic The Hague. He stopped hunting for good and gave away the centuries-old possessions of the noble Van Pallandts family – and later got them back. The idealist died, but his ideals live on at today’s Eerde estate, where his descendants still live. To this day, activities organized by the Scouts and the international boarding school and activities to promote nature conservation still take place here.’

PhD ceremony

On 26 September Joke Draaijer will defend her PhD thesis in the presence of her supervisors Prof. Yme Kuiper, Emeritus Professor of Historical Anthropology and Anthropology of Religion at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen, also Emeritus Professor of Historical Country Houses and Estates at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen, and Prof. Mirjam de Baar, Professor of the Cultural History of Early Modern Christianity at the Faculty of Religious Studies of Leiden University (until March 2016 she held this chair at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen).

  • When:           Thursday 26 September 2019
  • Time:           4:15 p.m.
  • Where:         Academy Building
Last modified:16 September 2019 4.52 p.m.
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