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News in a Glasshouse: Media, Publics, and Senses of Belonging in the Dutch Caribbean

On the 23d of May, Sanne Rotmeijer successfully defended a doctoral thesis. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Sanne on this achievement!

Sanne Rotmeijer
23 May 2023
Leiden Repository

What is 'the news' and how does it differ from 'news'? The latter speaks to power, diversity of news media, and multiple publics⁠. This dissertation is an ethnographic study of 'the news' and 'news' in, respectively, an institutional and a popular public on the Dutch Caribbean islands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten⁠. The metaphor of the ‘glasshouse’ refers to how social life on these islands took shape under Dutch colonial rule and has since evolved as part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands⁠. Like (real) glasshouses, built as regulated atmospheres to optimize the growth of plants outside their natural habitat, I argue that as part of the Dutch colonial project Curaçao and Sint Maarten were designed and regulated as social environments according to capitalist principles⁠. Yet, as unruly transformations emerge in (real) glasshouses, so do unforeseen flowering and mushrooming take place on Curaçao and Sint Maarten⁠.

With a focus on news as a social process that generates common, contested, and at times cathartic senses of belonging, this dissertation aims to broaden the understanding of what 'news' means and does, while showing how everyday dynamics of 'the news' and 'news' articulate the creative transformations around (re)imagining and constructing the island communities⁠.

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