The Low Countries - 2015, № 23

3 maart 2015

Turning Tides is the theme of The Low Countries yearbook's 23rd volume

Everything is water, claimed Thales of Miletus around 600 BC. Some assert that this statement was the beginning of philosophy. Water is life. All life comes from the water. The land is what is left behind by the sea. The Low Countries, and the Netherlands in particular, know all about that. They have been won from the sea. But that victory is never definitive.

In this book we take a closer look at water in all its forms, and at that specific sea of ours. You can travel the length of the Belgian coast by tram, from De Panne to Knokke. You can sail from Vlissingen to Texel. We wonder whether the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp could coordinate their activities, but perhaps, as far as China is concerned, Zeebruges, Ghent-Terneuzen and Vlissingen are just hubs of one and the same megaport offering access to Europe. There is a portfolio of pictures, too, showing what people do on the wide sandy beaches of the Low Countries in their summer hours of idleness. The great pirates of the past are also honoured. Today, Somali pirates raise the problem of the law(lessness)  of the sea. Today we still need an international law of the sea, especially where pollution and overfishing are concerned. With regard to the latter, however, what food can we still obtain from our North Sea? And finally, there’s no sea without seascapes and poems, of course, a flood of words to conjure up the roar of the surf, the eternal lapping of the waves.

And the tides? They keep on turning.

This yearbook aims to present to the world the culture and society of the Dutch-speaking area which encompasses both the Netherlands and Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. The articles survey the living, contemporary culture of the Low Countries, as well as their cultural heritage.

In these pages you will find everything you always wanted to know about ‘this undigested vomit of the sea’ as a British metaphysical  poet once called the Low Countries. They are at the very heart of Europe, the intersection of North and South, of the Latin and Germanic worlds.

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