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Together for our own

Samen voor ons eigen – De geschiedenis van een Nederlandse volksbuurt: de Haagse Schilderswijk 1920 | 1985

Diederick Klein Kranenburg
Verloren B.V., Uitgeverij

ISBN: 9789087043759

Oral history is an important pillar of Samen voor ons eigen, the study on The Hague’s Schilderswijk in the years 1920-1985 on which social historian Diederick Klein Kranenburg obtained his doctorate. Together with students, Klein Kranenburg interviewed dozens of (former) residents of the Schilderswijk about life in the working-class neighbourhood. Little remains of the nostalgic, positive image that does exist of working-class neighbourhoods in Samen voor ons eigen. The Schilderswijk has never been a cosy, homogeneous working-class neighbourhood. Between 1920 and 1985, the composition of the population kept changing: those who could afford it left the neighbourhood as soon as possible.

After 1945, the Schilderswijk became a dumping ground for residents who had to leave their hovels elsewhere in The Hague. But even then, a homogeneous culture was limited to a few streets where a few families ruled the roost with a fierce hand and pushed outsiders away.

A working-class idyll the Schilderswijk has never been, Klein Kranenburg’s lucid, jargon-free study shows.


The Hague’s Schilderswijk is one of the many Dutch working-class neighbourhoods about which opposing narratives circulate: it is remembered both as a notorious slum and as a cosy working-class neighbourhood, which, in the Hague case, allegedly disappeared in the 1980s due to the immigration of guest workers and other newcomers. In this book, Diederick Klein Kranenburg examines the historical reality behind this myth-making. In doing so, he makes an important contribution to the social history of Dutch urban neighbourhoods. Klein Kranenburg shows – partly on the basis of dozens of interviews – that before the 1980s, the neighbourhood was already far from homogeneous and departures from the neighbourhood were underway before migrants moved in. After 1945, many stragglers underwent a process of social self-exclusion, increasingly turning their backs on society. This hampered social mobility.