Zingen over branden, scheepsrampen en grote buitenlandse catastrofes, 1755-1918 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 4, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN: 2588-8277
  • E-ISSN: 2667-162X



This article focuses on Dutch songs about three different kind of disasters in the period 1755-1918: fires (which occurred in Dutch villages and cities), ship wrecks (both in the Netherlands and abroad) and other foreign catastrophes, such as the earthquake on Martinique (1839) or the floods in Mexico (1888). This popular genre is an important source to understand how people coped with disasters in the past. They were not only used to spread the news, but also to make sense of the events by offering moral and religious lessons. This article investigates how these different types of disaster songs could shape a shared sense of community on the local, national and international level. While songs about fires were often directed at the local community, ballads about shipwrecks appealed to the imagined Dutch community. Songs about big disasters in foreign places, sometimes aimed at raising international solidarity, but they were more often used to strengthen communal feelings at the national level.


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