Cultural History research culture


Cultural history is a broad and dynamic discipline, which can flexibly accommodate emerging topics and concerns. It is distinguished from other historical disciplines by its focus on culture as a process of attributing meaning. Taking a lead from Johan Huizinga, we understand culture as a system of ‘life forms’: usages, values, opinions, practices, objects, arts and knowledge, which may exist within a group and to which the group attaches meaning. Cultural history is distinguished by the very diverse range of sources it documents and uses (such as various kinds of text, images, music, smells, performativity, and heritage, both material and immaterial). Cultural history is also distinct from the field of Cultural studies because of its focus on historicity and the historical method, emphasizing historical dynamics and processes of change, interaction and appropriation across time and space. Cultural history is above all an interdisciplinary subject: within the Humanities it combines concepts and methods from history, art history, literature, theatre studies, book history, and more, and seeks interaction outside the Humanities with the social sciences (e.g. through cultural anthropology), with the natural and medical sciences (through the history of science and medical humanities), and with computer sciences (digital humanities). Within this disciplinary field,  new approaches, focus points and specialisms emerge periodically . Given the importance of culture for processes of identification, the history of identity also occupies an important place in the discipline. Although much of the Institute’s work is on historical events which take place outside the Netherlands,  since the time of Johan Huizinga there has been a powerful academic tradition of cultural history focusing on culture in the Netherlands and its connections with Europe and the wider world,  together with a significant outreach  to the Dutch public.

The Huizinga Institute serves as a national research network for Cultural History.


Target groups

  • Cultural History has close ties with national societies and cultures and with scholars of Cultural History in other countries. Some publications focus on the Dutch public and on professionals both within and outside academia.
  • In addition, researchers in this domain target specialist peers and a broad spectrum of researchers in their own and other related disciplines.


Products and communication

  • Monographs are the most prestigious research products in the domain of Cultural History. Chief among them are scholarly monographs published by an internationally recognised academic publisher, but also ‘hybrid’ book publications (if successful) focusing on both academic and non-academic readers.
  • Other important communication channels are edited volumes and proceedings on interrelated themes addressing peers.
  • Journal articles are meant for an international readership, although some also address a national audience. The most important titles among the many journals being published are those meant to communicate with peers in subdomains or subdisciplines.
  • Review processes are very important to publishing in the domain, including the publication of books and edited volumes, and may consist of standard (anonymised) peer reviews or of strict editorial review procedures.
  • Scholarly output can also be communicated in the form of lectures, exhibitions, creative products or datasets.


Processes and strategies

  • Monographs intended for international publishers may require several years of work and are generally only feasible at a later stage of a researcher’s career.
  • Hybrid publications are regularly accompanied by lectures and appearances before scholarly, professional and general audiences, radio and television appearances and blogging (on the web).
  • Single-authorship is the dominant form, but multi-author publications are becoming more common.
  • Researchers make use of various forms of publication, leading to diversity in publication media (journal articles, monographs, essays in edited volumes, and so on).


Domain-specific aspects of quality and relevance

Hybrid publications, specifically books, target academic researchers, professionals and other interested parties.


Relevance of indicators for products

The Huizinga panel has authorised various publication channels for journals and books. To some extent they have been divided into subdomains, but others are also regarded as characteristic for Cultural History as a whole. The publication channels have been specified by target group. The multidisciplinary nature of this domain means that indicators authorised by other panels are also relevant. Link to lists


Relevance of quantitative indicators for use and marks of recognition

  • Since established databases (e.g. Web of Science, Scopus) register few journals and no monographs as sources, we do not recommend using bibliometric data from these databases. In relevant cases, it may be possible to trace monograph citations using Google Scholar. However, Google Scholar is not regarded as representative for publications in the domain of Cultural History, and caution is therefore advised.
  • In addition to Google Scholar, it is also possible to analyse the impact of hybrid publications by conducting internet searches of societal and scholarly users.