How liberal is the Netherlands?

In the 1960s, the Netherlands transformed itself from a former colonial empire with a predominantly provincial mentality into a small nation with a predominantly international mentality. Whereas the Netherlands had traditionally been considered as a profoundly religious country with rather conservative moral values, the country’s capital Amsterdam became a symbol of progressiveness and secularism. The Netherlands was far more radical than any other country in applying the progressive philosophy of the sixties to political practice. Whether in the case of same-sex marriage, abortion, the legalization of soft drugs, prostitution or euthanasia, Dutch legislators were European frontrunners with their gedoogbeleid. The exploitation of prostitution was legalized in the year 2000, euthanasia is legal since 2001. According to the 1992 policy on soft drugs, the possession of a maximum amount of thirty grams cannabis for personal use is not prosecuted, yet the production of soft drugs continues to be a criminal offense. Coffeeshops are allowed to sell up to five grams per day per costumer and can have a maximum of 500 gram cannabis in stock. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriages.

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About Jeroen Dewulf

Jeroen Dewulf is associate professor in the Department of German, where he teaches courses in both German Studies and Dutch Studies. He is the current director of Berkeley's Institute of European Studies. As the incumbent of the Queen Beatrix Chair, he is also the director of the Dutch Studies Program. He is the founder and chair of both the Executive Committee of the Designated Emphasis in Dutch Studies and the Executive Committee of the Designated Emphasis in European Studies for graduate students. As an affiliated member of the Center for African Studies and core member of the faculty board of the Latin American Studies Graduate Group, he is also active in the field of African Studies and Latin-American Studies. He is also the literary executor of the Swiss author Hugo Loetscher (1929-2009). Dewulf graduated with a major in Germanic Philology and a minor in Portuguese Studies at the University of Ghent, in Belgium. He holds an MA from the University of Porto, in Portugal, and a PhD in German Literature from the University of Bern, in Switzerland. He has been a visiting professor at the University of São Paulo and the Institute of Advanced Studies at UCL London. His research interests are as diverse as Dutch and Portuguese (post)colonial literature and history, transatlantic slave trade, Low Countries studies, Swiss literature and culture and European politics in general. He publishes in five different languages (English, Dutch, German, Portuguese and French). For his scholarly service, he was distinguished, in 1999, with the Quality Seal for Innovating Initiatives in the Field of Foreign Language Education by the European Union and he was awarded by the Cultural Foundation of the Swiss UBS-Bank for his research on Swiss-German literature. In 2010, he was distinguished by the Hellman Family Faculty Fund as one of the “Best of Berkeley Researchers” and in 2012 he won the Robert O. Collins Award in African Studies as well as the American Cultures Innovation in Teaching Award. In 2014, he was distinguished with the Hendricks Award of the New Netherland Institute for his research on the early Dutch history of New York and the first slave community on Manhattan. In 2015, his research on the slave population in Louisiana was distinguished with the Louisiana History President's Memorial Award and both in 2015 and 2016, he was the recipient of the Clague and Carol Van Slyke Article Prize in New Netherland studies.

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