Before starting her position as a PhD candidate at the Rachel Carson Center in October 2015, Eveline de Smalen studied English and comparative literature at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where she was born and raised.
As part of the Environmental Humanities for a Concerned Europe (ENHANCE) Marie Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN), she works together with Vikas Lakhani on the subject of “climates of memory.” As well as being published in book format, their research will also be incorporated into a policy paper for the European Union.
Eveline’s dissertation focuses on the cultural imagination of the Rhine-Meuse Delta in the Netherlands and the Humber Estuary in England, and the transformations in the landscape that have occurred there since the Second World War. Both regions saw heavy industrialization during the twentieth century, but different developments such as increasing mechanization meant loss of jobs and economic wealth. By comparing the historical development of the river ecology with its literary representations, Eveline aims to describe where imagination takes ecological development and government policy and to see where they line up, but also where tensions arise. In doing so, she hopes to describe how, through processes of loss of ecological and economic wealth, a new conception of nature can emerge in places where humans and nature work together to create novel places of hope and beauty.