International Conference
Cultural perceptions of safety
On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd of January 2021 the Humanities Department of the Open University of the Netherlands organizes the international conference 'Cultural perceptions of safety'. The conference will be held in Utrecht, at the Academiegebouw, and is supported by the Huizinga Institute (Research Institute and Graduate School of Cultural History).

Covid-19 update September 2020

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have been forced to make changes to our conference in order to keep in line with the regulations of the Dutch government. We have therefore decided to transform our international conference to a hybrid conference. We are giving the speakers the opportunity to come to Utrecht and present in the Aula of the Utrecht University Hall. Because at this moment in time the capacity of this venue has been reduced to 38 people, it will unfortunately not be able for other parties to attend in real life. We do offer a live stream of the conference and it is now possible to register via this website for the whole conference or for particular keynotes and sessions.

Cultural perceptions of safety

Questions of safety are at the foreground of many societal and spatial issues. Nowadays as well as in the past, the longing for safety is an important driving force for people and political and religious regimes. The pursuit of safety is often used to legitimize political action and social interventions. Therefore, it is important to reflect on how we define, experience and represent safety. In our modern day and age, according to statistics on crime, hunger, illness or death most parts of the world appear to be safer than ever before. However, the information age we live in brings us daily news of ecological catastrophes, drug crimes, epidemics, terrorism and trade wars, which influences our sense of safety significantly. Feelings of safety are thus connected to much more than measurable numbers alone. Changing experiences of safety over time are influenced by social, political, environmental and personal factors and need to be seen in a broader context to fully grasp its impact.

During this conference cultural perception of safety will be put at the foreground to focus on questions such as: When do feelings of safety and unsafety emerge? How is safety and unsafety portrayed and imagined in literary works, artworks, architecture and media? Do modern representations of safety and unsafety differ from those in earlier times? And how have safety practices been generated, implemented or used by people in policymaking and constructions of society?

The conference 'Cultural perceptions of safety' brings together scholars from various humanities disciplines in order to stimulate an interdisciplinary reflection on and contribute to our cultural understanding of the experience of safety and its larger societal impact.

See this website for more information.

If you have any questions, please contact Martje aan de Kerk via