Waiting for Yesteryears: An ethnographic exploration of ecological nostalgia in the contemporary Dutch intangible cultural heritage context
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"This research project focusses on the Dutch national intangible heritage of ice-skating on natural ice, with the Eleven Cities Tour as its summum, during times of climate change. The last Eleven Cities Tour was held 24 years ago on February 14th 1997, which marks the longest drought ever between tours. While this intangible heritage is becoming more rare, it is certainly not yet perceived to be lost. In popular imaginary it is even very much alive. By adopting ecological nostalgia as an analytical lens, this thesis investigates the interplay between climate change and intangible heritage. Ecological nostalgia provides a potent way to study how people navigate possible loss due to climate change and how heritage transforms in this process. By exploring ecological nostalgias in the contemporary intangible heritage context of the Netherlands, and more specifically in the province of Friesland, I have uncovered how people position themselves in (climate) history and how they orient oneself to the future. During 3 months of fieldwork in Friesland I have spoken to those who stand to lose their heritage, about its meaning, transformation, their worries and hopes. I have studied why people ought to wait on something that might never happen again and how this heritage transforms due to climate change. Furthermore, my study provides insights in the temporal orientations that form people’s ideas, actions and social relationships through engagements in and with time. For many of my interlocutors, ice-skating has become the embodiment of a more social, freer and healthier world in which people are more connected to nature and perhaps even a bit more eased. This is what the Eleven Cities Tour as the ultimate expression of the Dutch ice culture has come to represent. "