Struggling with the European Atlas


In 1995 the Dutch ethnologist J.J. Voskuil caused quite a stir with the first volume of the massive narrative about the life at a scientific institute entitled Het Bureau. In this contribution we will elaborate on the role foreign ethnologists play in this roman à clef, since Voskuil among other things reports by way of ethnographic fiction quite some details of international atlas conferences which he attended as staff member of the Amsterdam (P.J.) Meertens-Institute. In order to situate author and book we firstly introduce Dutch ethnology and Voskuil’s position as scientist and novelist. The literary evocation of the atlas conferences concludes with some observations on the relation between fiction and faction and the ethics of writing about colleagues.

How to Cite

Rooijakkers, G. & Meurkens, P., (2000) “Struggling with the European Atlas”, Ethnologia Europaea 30(1), p.75-95. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Gerard Rooijakkers (Meertens-Insitute Amsterdam)
Peter Meurkens (University of Nijmegen)



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