Brabant is Here: Making Sense of Regional Identification

Sandra Wagemakers

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Although people increasingly move across the world, physically, online, in their imagination, or through consumption patterns, they continue to be attached to the places they live in or come from. But how do people identify with North Brabant, a province located in the south of the Netherlands? And how do these identifications manifest in everyday life? For this research, I used several cases and methods to research these contemporary processes of identification. In doing so, I chose to analyse everyday elements, particularly in relation to media, both online (e.g. Facebook) and on television (e.g. the series Smeris). On the basis of these different cases, I emphasise the role of unreflexive processes in regional identification. Moreover, familiarity, knowledge of the locality, and proximity also play a role. Regional identification is embedded within the recognizable locality of everyday life.

People are often unreflexively concerned with regional identification, even when they do feel connected to their region. If people talk about Brabant, stereotypical elements and existing (traditional) discourses may play a role. However, if we look beyond this to the way in which people identify with Brabant, and how people experience Brabant, then the distinction between Brabanders and others becomes blurred. Unreflexive processes play a role for regional identification.
Recognizability and knowledge of the local contribute to identification with a region. Both the more tangible knowledge (such as expressed in some Facebook posts) and more tacit intuitive knowledge (such as the recognizability of Tilburg in Smeris) play a role. Expressing this knowledge of the recognized situations, people and places and expressing the mistakes in these expressions contribute to someone’s regional identification.

People define what is Brabantish based on what is close. This is not the entire province, but it is a Brabant that confirms with one’s personal and nearby surroundings. People relate the elements they consider as ‘from here’ to Brabant’s thick identity. In that sense, identification with Brabant follows existing territorial boundaries. The process of identifying with one’s surroundings is connected to an existing region: in this case, Brabant. My analyses show that while people may speak about Brabant, it does not mean they always refer to Brabant; they may also refer to their local surroundings or a larger space while calling it Brabant. This dissertation, thereby, shows that Brabant means in daily life mostly that which is ‘here’.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tilburg University
  • Swanenberg, Jos, Promotor
  • Bijsterveld, Arnoud-Jan, Promotor
  • Achterberg, Peter, Member PhD commission
  • Kroon, Sjaak, Member PhD commission
  • Janssen, J., Member PhD commission, External person
  • Verhoeven, T.H.G., Member PhD commission, External person
  • Waade, A.M., Member PhD commission, External person
Award date9 Jun 2017
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789462996021
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Identity
  • Identification
  • regional identity
  • media
  • regional
  • Brabant
  • local


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