Thomas van den Brink

Job title
Landscape Historian | Cultural Heritage Specialist

In 2013 I graduated from the research master landscape history at the University of Groningen. This master allowed me to combine a broad range of courses within or related to the field of historical geography. I fallowed courses at different universities including archaeology, anthropology, heritage studies and physical and social geography. I also focused on learning skills like palaeography and GIS.

My bachelor thesis focused on the spatial changes within the grain commodity chain in order to test an economic model that predicted the causes and effects of globalisation from a transport-cost-perspective. I tested this hypothesis based on the historic locations of grain mills in two provinces of the Netherlands: Friesland and Brabant around 1900.

In my master thesis I assessed six different theories in order to explain why the village Molkwerum almost disappeared in the eighteenth century. Based on the empirical analysis I showed that none of the existing theories were enough to explain this single case. Nevertheless all theories supplied important insights that were needed for an ultimate explanation. The main conclusion was that the social-economic and social-ecological relations connected the local landscape with global trade networks. The thesis received the Best Thesis 2010‐2014 award from the Fryske Akademy (Frisian Academy, research institute belonging to the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences).

In 2014-2015 I did a research project at the Wageningen University in which I made an European landscape map with landscapes that have a unique name. This project applied a top down method of spatial demarcation in order to understand what the distinctive geographical characters of these areas were. In 2016 I applied the opposite strategy: I created a typology of the North-western European sand landscapes (The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany) based on local characterstics.

At the moment I work at the University of Delft on a system approach to urban development, water, energy and food in the landscape of the western part of the Low Countries - Led by Reinout Rutte and Jaap Evert Abrahamse. Based on historical and historical cartographic research, a GIS is created in which the urban systems of water management, flood protection, food and energy supply are mapped. These provide insight into the historical long-term developments of such systems and can serve as a source of inspiration for contemporary issues concerning water issues, climate adaptation, food supply and energy issues in and around our cities.

Besides my research I did a lot of work (both paid and as a volunteer) for different organisations relating to history, heritage, spatial challenges, research and conservation issues. Examples include my contribution to the Atlas of Mutual Heritage and my participation in Dutch UNESCO meetings on digital heritage and the immaterial aspects of landscapes and heritage in general.

Last but not least, I am the editorial secretary of the Dutch Tijdschrift voor Historische Geografie and I have a company with which I do scientific research and heritage projects: THOM - Telling History with Original Maps.

I have a special interest in commodities, global relations, city development, history of science and technology, colonial and industrial history and heritage, defence systems and water heritage.

Thomas vd Brink