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Quotidian 1 (December 2009)


Sophie Elpers, Maartje Hoogsteyns, Stijn Reijnders

Everyday life seemingly eludes our perception. It appears to us as obvious, a natural given state. Nevertheless, it is not. When looked at through the eyes of an outsider, everyday life reveals itself as a complex cultural construct with social, historical and spatial layering, and which can only be unravelled through meticulous research. Empathy and creativity on the part of the researcher are essential. In this proces the trails followed may sometimes seem small and insignificant, but it is precisely these details which enable the researcher to discover and fathom the world step by step.

The world of today, 2009, is characterised by a variety of processes with far-reaching consequences. Whilst globalisation has made our world smaller, it has also provided a foundation for a resurgence of local identity. Whilst the global economic crisis has called a halt to the economic boom of the nineties, it has also helped to open our eyes for new paths. And whilst the global migration of people over the past decades has led to new common ground, it too has paved the way for new confrontations between groups and their respective ideologies.

Often observation of such processes does not lead to anything beyond generalisations, based on specific ideologies or politics. The field of everyday life offers an ideal starting point to study macro developments such as these in the context of practical culture, from an open-minded yet critical perspective.

Such studies have long lacked an academic podium. Quotidian. Dutch Journal for the Study of Everyday Life fills this void. It offers the badly needed platform for innovative and original research into the meaning of everyday life. The research in question is of an explicitly interdisciplinary nature: the goal of Quotidian is to become the home of anthropologists, archeologists, etnologists, media researchers, historians, sociologists and heritage specialists who want to tread this interdisciplinary research field.

The first issue of Quotidian gives the reader a neat impression of the broad scope of the journal. Space is offered both to progressive theoretical work, here in the form of archeologist Maartje Hoogsteijns’s contribution on ballet shoes, and to solid empirical research, as exemplified by the thick description of daily life on primary schools in Amsterdam by Linda Duits. And whilst Jo Thijssen makes a meticulous study of historical source material on the production of 19th Century popular folk prints, the text on the murder of film maker Theo van Gogh by anthropologist Irene Stengs links in with current social debate on Dutch and migrant culture. Finally, the article by Dhoest and Simons on television culture and ethnicity bridges the fields of Ethnology and Communication Sciences.

Quotidian has been made possible through the financial support of the Meertens Institute. Research and documentation of Dutch language and culture.