Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis

NICA is the Dutch national research school dedicated to the academic study of contemporary culture from an interdisciplinary, theoretical, and critical perspective. The school offers graduate courses for research master and PhD students, and serves as a professional network for affiliated scholars. Presently based at the Leiden University, the school welcomes the participation of scholars and students of all Dutch universities. (Read NICA’s mission statement.)


NICA membership is free, caries no obligations, and is open to faculty as well as research master and PhD students. Join us by mailing the following address: Contact NICA


NICA proudly hosts the following platforms:

The Platform for Postcolonial Readings organizes seminars for all (junior) researchers in the Netherlands and Belgium who are committed to issues of postcoloniality and globalization. As an open network, platform for debate, and reading group, our meetings are open to all. Organizers: Elisabeth Bekers (VUB), Sarah De Mul (KUL), Isabel Hoving (UL), Liesbeth Minnaard (UL).

The Benelux Association for the Study of Art, Culture, and the Environment (BASCE), initiated by Isabel Hoving ( Ecocriticism is a booming field. It emerged in the United States as a self-conscious theoretical approach in the early nineties, building on the modern environmental thought that responded to a growing sense of environmental crisis in the 1960s and 1970s.  Primarily developing as a new approach to literary writing, ecocriticism has now expanded into a broad, interdisciplinary field that relates to topics as widely diverse as interspecies justice, the role of grief and mourning in theories of the environment, the relation between queerness and veganism, and bio-art. As the enthusiasm for ecocriticism grows in the Benelux, the need for dialogue and collaboration grows too. Many of us might benefit from an interdisciplinary tri-national platform upon which all those who are interested in ecocriticism can be informed about the latest national and international developments, as well as exchange ideas and plans for research projects. Such a platform could help shape the emerging field, which would have a stimulating effect on cultural analysis on the whole, as it problematizes and elaborates some of the key notions in that field too. MoreEcocriticism Benelux BASCE 2012 ..

The Design and Fashion Cultures Platform: In contemporary culture design and fashion continue to grow in importance and popularity. However, design and fashion have long been neglected by the Arts and Humanities as a field of academic study. The Design and Fashion Cultures Platform aims to encourage academic interest and research in design and fashion as they are embedded in their cultural and material contexts. The focus will be on the study of product design, graphic design, and fashion, taking into account the complex, globalised, chain of production, sale, and consumption. The Platform also wishes to explore the wider cultural field in which design and fashion operate and the ways in which they become meaningful and even constititutive of consumer’s identities. The platform combines theoretical, historical and comparative approaches to design and fashion, and welcomes all researchers and students interested in the field. Organizers: Anneke Smelik (Radboud University Nijmegen), Javier Gimeno-Martínez (VU University Amsterdam) and Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz (VU University Amsterdam). Contact person: Joana Ozorio de Almeida Meroz (

Executive team

  • Director:  Pepita Hesselberth is DFF Laureate and assistant professor Film and Digital Media at the Centre for the Arts in Society at Leiden University. She is the author of Cinematic Chonotopes (Bloomsbury 2014), and co-editor of, amongst others, Compact Cinematics (Bloomsbury 2016), Legibility in the Age of Signs and Machines (Brill 2018), and Politics of Withdrawal (Rowman and Littlefield 2020). She is currently finalizing her project on Disconnectivity in the Digital Age, for which she received a fellowship from the Danish Council for Independent Research, and was appointed as a research fellow at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen (2016-2018).
  • Manager:  Tessa de Zeeuw is assistant professor Film and Literary Studies at the Centre for the Arts in Society at Leiden University. She just finalized her PhD on the the law’s fundamental theatricality, the idea that justice must be seen to be done. Tessa is looking forward to start her position after her maternity leave ends in April 2021.
  • Office Manager: Kim Sommer is finalizing her studies Film and Literary Studies at Leiden University and will start her Research Master in September. She has been active as a board member at a local association of the intercultural European Student’s Forum AEGEE, which has prepared her for the administrative and managerial tasks within organizations on a bigger scale.


NICA’s Board includes members from the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam and the Universities of Leiden, Maastricht, Groningen, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, and Utrecht. Together, they represent disciplines as varied as Literary Studies, Theatre and Performance Studies, Cultural Philosophy, Art History, Media Studies, Gender Studies and Cultural Studies.

Board members:

Year Report