Personal pages

Bregje van Eekelen

Biographical note

Bregje van Eekelen is Senior Researcher History of Social and Human Sciences at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, Erasmus University. She is a member of Young Erasmus (2014-2018), of the Global History Research Cluster, and a founding member of the Erasmus Institute for Public Knowledge (EIPK). Her research and teaching focuses on the history of the social and human sciences, including their public lives. These histories are not contained within the disciplines themselves – they are related to social, political and cultural processes, and in turn affect them. She has recently been awarded an EUR fellowship (2013-2014) and a National Science Foundation (NWO) Veni grant (2014-2018) for her project on the twentieth century history of creative thought in military-industrial contexts. At the EIPK, she is the co-PI for the collaborative research project Depoliticization and the Public Interest which was awarded a Research Excellence Initiative grant (2016-2021).


Her dissertation (University of California, Santa Cruz) is titled The Social Life of Ideas: Economies of Knowledge. Both her dissertation and her current project (Brainstorms: A Cultural History of Undisciplined Thought) use a combination of historical and anthropological approaches to the study of traveling concepts, most notably concepts that are situated on the boundary between culture and economy. They include concepts such as ‘marketplace of ideas,’ ‘intangible assets,’ ‘knowledge economy,’ and ‘creativity.’ She studies the socio-historical conditions of the emergence of these concepts; the knowledge practices, bureaucratic categories, and narratives through which they are stabilized and kept in place; and how they structure common sense, both in the past and in the present.

At the EIPK, she is the co-PI for the Research Excellence Initiative Depoliticization and the Public Interest . By means of three strategic cases, EIPK's REI-funded project seeks to untangle the technological, regulatory and affective dimensions of depoliticization, and the potentials for alternative forms of repoliticization.

Recent articles were published in the Journal of Cultural Economy and Economy and Society, and in Designing Thinking: Angewandte Imagination und Kreativität um 1960 (Ed. Cladia Mareis). Her interest in the social etymologies of words used in the ‘war on terror’ and other disasters has led to amongst others Shock and Awe, War on Words (co-edited with Jennifer Gonzalez, Bettina Stoetzer, and Anna Tsing).


Her research has been funded by numerous grants, most recently the EUR fellowship (135.000 euros) a Veni grant from the National Science Foundation (250.000 euros) and a REI grant (co-PI, 682.000). Others include a UC Chancellor’s Fellow Grant, UvA Employability Grant, Catharina van Tussenbroek Fellowship, Henriette Sara De Lanoy Meijer Fellowship, a Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Fellowship, a Nationale Talentenbeurs, a Fulbright NAF scholarship, a Vrouwe van Renswoude Fellowship, and grants from The University of California Regents.

Teaching Experience

Bregje van Eekelen’s research and teaching expertise include the history of social and human sciences; anthropology of knowledge; modern societies and their genealogies; history of social science; language & war; critical discourse analysis; global capitalism; economic history and anthropology. At Erasmus, she has experience teaching BA/MA courses in the sections Metahistory and Global History, in for instance the philosophy of history (Theory of History, Historical Culture), Histories of Emerging Economies and honors classes on neoliberalism. She has also taught the MA Research Workshop History, Memory, and National Identity. At the University of California, Santa Cruz, Van Eekelen has taught Theory and History of Anthropology, Ethnographies of Capitalism, and Histories and Cultural Aspects of Trade, Travel, and Tourism.




Woudestein, Van der Goot Building, Room M6-31


Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)

Postal Address:

Erasmus University, M6-31
P.O. Box 1738, NL-3000 DR Rotterdam


+31 (0)10 408 88 38


+31 (0)10 408 91 35