Utrecht student associations as local imagined communities

A comparative case study on the commemoration of the Second World War among Utrecht student associations


This study reveals the dynamic interplay between invented traditions, imagined communities, and commemoration within student associations. It examines how two Utrecht student associations commemorate the Second World War through invented traditions to create a local imagined community. Comparing Unitas S.R. and U.V.S.V., it explores the active creation and transmission of repetitive practices to uphold historical continuity. It shows how student associations serve as ideal settings for invented traditions within local imagined communities. Despite limited personal connections, members share a collective image of their association’s traditions. The associations establish a direct link to the past, transmitting historical norms and values. Commemorating specific individuals strengthens this connection and creates communal identity. The research underscores that local institutions play a crucial role in shaping commemorative practices.

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Source header: Statue of Truus van Lier. Picture made by the author.

Michelle Moonen is a 23 year old History student at Utrecht University who is currently wrapping up her BA. She finished her BA English Language and Culture this year and is planning on doing a Research Master in History next year. Her interests are mainly focussed on political memory studies, Irish history and literature, and environmental history. Michelle also works on several projects at the Journal of Trial and Error, which is an independent, diamond open-access journal that engages in redefining failure in science. Besides that, she is the student assessor for the department of History and Art History at the UU, where she is committed to improving student life at the university

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