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Introducing: Wouter Linmans

Wouter Linmans is a PhD candidate at the Leiden University Institute for History. He is working on a thesis on visions and fears of future warfare in Dutch society between 1918 and 1939.

Quite early on in my time as a history student in Leiden (both BA and Research MA), I found that I became drawn to the idea of building an academic career in history. I developed a passion for going through archives in search of stories worth telling and papers worth writing.

Fantasies and visions of future warfare

One of these papers, dealing with the fear of aerial warfare as expressed in Dutch news media during the interwar period, led up to my current PhD project, ‘Imagining the war of the future' (working title). In this project I study visions and fears of future warfare in Dutch society in the twenty-odd years between the two World Wars. How did the experiences of the First World War bring forth fantasies and visions of future warfare? How were these images present in different societal, political or ideological groups and movements in Dutch society? And at which points in time did they prompt people to take action, both on a personal and a political level?

Ordinary individuals in extraordinary times

The topic for my PhD project originates in my long-lasting interest in the history of mentalities, popular imagination and (political) violence in the 19th and 20th century. It is motivated by what is, to my understanding, the core business of the historian: understanding historical figures – not just high-profile characters but ‘ordinary’ people who in some (or even many) cases lived through extraordinary times. I have found that researching popular imagination helps me get close to the fears, dreams and aspirations of historical individuals – close to the human dimension of history, so to say. I am very much looking forward to continuing to do so in the next few years.

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