Heritage (Erfgoed) in the Dutch Press

A History of Changing Meanings in an International Context

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
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  • 1 University of Amsterdam H.Ronnes@uva.nl
  • | 2 University of Amsterdam T.M.C.vanKessel@uva.nl
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Since the 1990s, the Dutch equivalent for “heritage,” erfgoed, has become a buzzword in the Netherlands. Often presented as a neologism, little attention is paid to the term’s longer history. Th is article traces the history through a survey of digitized newspapers from 1700 to 1975, revealing elements of erfgoed’s current meaning well before the twentieth-century heritage mania. In the eighteenth century a synonym of “freedom,” in the latter nineteenth century frequently carrying the prefix nationaal, and in the 1930s associated with genetics and folk culture, erfgoed can be regarded as a speculum vitae, taking on different meanings depending on the era. As elsewhere in Europe, the second half of the nineteenth century was the most decisive moment in the evolution of the term.