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Inaugural lecture Ralf Futselaar

On Friday 5 November 2021 gave his inaugural lecture Born under a Bad Sign. Keeping The Indelible Marks of Total War on Twentieth Century Lives in the Aula of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Ralf Futselaar has been appointed endowed professor by special appointment at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, on behalf of the NIOD Institute, with the chair Social history of war, mass violence and genocide.

The reception took place in the same building afterwards.

The inaugural lecture can also be followed via a livestream.

Born under a Bad Sign. Keeping The Indelible Marks of Total War on Twentieth Century Lives

In social and economic history, wars are traditionally an overlooked subject. Historians who use insights from social sciences tend to be more interested in long term, relatively slow developments, like economic growth or demographic transitions. Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) considered war, like politics, to be a collection of events that, however it may affect the people who experience it, has limited historical value.

However, a social or economic view on modern conflicts is useful. It can help us understand the events themselves, as well as provide insight into long term social and economic history. In this oration, I will focus on one element of this: the cohort effects. What are the long term effects on people who have lived through a large scale conflict at a certain age?

The effects can vary greatly, ranging from career opportunities, language and health. But how can we study these effects? Is it even possible to measure collective effects? And what could we do with this knowledge?

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