It’s all about the money, right? Past, present and future of NSU

Dutch historian Rutger Bregman asks the question whether people are inherently bad or good. Should we follow Hobbes’ view that civilisation is necessary in order to keep the bad at bay, or should we listen to Rousseau who claimed that it was civilisation that had corrupted men? In his book ‘De meeste mensen deugen‘ (which will be published in English in a few days as ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History‘) Bregman analyses a ton of scientific research – from archaeology to psychology, biology and political scientific research – to show that although we tell ourselves differently, mankind is inherently good. And that research that seemed to show otherwise (think Milgram’s experiment, consider the Stanford prison experiment) are actually based on a false representation of the facts that resulted from those experiments. People were not bad or evil, but when scientists push them in a certain direction people will follow. Because if there is a flaw to humanity, according to Bregman, it is that they want to help others, even if that means they need to do bad things.

Continue reading “It’s all about the money, right? Past, present and future of NSU”

Inspirerende filosofische gespreksgroep

Gisteravond was de tweede keer dat de filosofische gespreksgroep Eindhoven bij elkaar kwam. Met in totaal elf deelnemers plus mijzelf als gespreksleider. Het onderwerp mondde uit op soms verhitte discussies waarbij we telkens weer terugkwamen op de filosofische dimensie van het probleem dat voor ons lag.

De eerste avond hadden we het naar aanleiding van een column van Marja Pruis uit de Groene Amsterdammer over het onderwerp ‘ontmoeting’. Wat betekent dat, elkaar echt ontmoeten? Wat is daarvoor nodig? We bespraken filosofen als Martin Buber en Emmanuel Levinas en kwamen erachter dat het zo makkelijk nog niet is, iemand te zien voor wie zij is. Een avond vol bezinning en gesprekken. Continue reading “Inspirerende filosofische gespreksgroep”

Filosofische Gespreksgroep Eindhoven

Op 27 november 2019 begint een nieuwe gespreksgroep in Eindhoven. Avonden om samen te praten over hedendaagse onderwerpen in een filosofische context. Interesse? Voor meer informatie, zie onderstaande flyer.

Wellicht tot dan!

Uitnodiging Filosofische Gespreksavonden Eindhoven

Online Course: Introduction to Western Philosophy

Only some places still available. Deadline to register: December 10, 2019.

Always wanted to learn more about philosophy, but didn’t know where to start? Join this online intensive course to jump into what is one of the most interesting things to learn about… philosophy.

Ready for an adventure into the development of thought?

About the Course

How to approach something as vast as the thousands of years of history of Western philosophy? In this course we will try to do the impossible: with an historical overview, tracking the major shifts in thinking by taking in the main figures from Western philosophy, starting with Plato, through Kant, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and to end with Foucault, to name but a few. Of course you won’t be able to know everything, but getting an idea and a feeling for this progress is definitely possible.

Although it will require some commitment from you as a student. Thinking is not a passive job. Each class you will get homework, which is optional but will help you get a feeling for the different types of writing and thinking throughout the history of philosophy, and during the online meetings we will devote quite some time to your questions about the texts. During the online classes we will be reading parts together, framing understanding in a historical and philosophical frame. And get an introduction to frame the new reading that will be homework for the next class.

The reading we will do will come from the major works of the philosophers themselves. English translations will be provided, along with the text in the original language (mostly German and French) when possible.

Time investment

The course will span four weeks over the Christmas holidays. Two classes of two hours per week. And about four hours reading material to prepare for the class. For those who want to devote even more time, optional reading will also be provided.

Practical Information

Location: Skype (if Skype turns out not to work well, we might try Zoom or Jitsi)
Times (Finnish time): 19:00 – 21:00 PM
Monday & Thursday (except for Christmas day)
300 euro per student for the whole course
Limit of 5 students

Dates: December 19, 23, 27, 30 & January 2, 6, 9, 13

Join this Facebook group to get in tocuh with other (potential) students:

Interested? Please contact me to secure a spot by writing me an email at nicole.nobyeni [at]

Exploring the Nordic Summer University Archive: tracing the conversation over 70 years of NSU existence

Researching the conversations at the Nordic Summer University from 1950 until 2020, I’ve been spending a week at the Danish National Archive, going through thousands of letters, reports, program leaflets. It’s been a great experience so far.

My aim with this specific research project (funded by NSU and The Nordics) is to trace the spirit of NSU, to trace the study programs throughout the years and see how they changed. Some things have been written about this, most notably Kritik og Krise written by several NSU-ers and published in 2000 (which can be downloaded here: But the chapter in that book that talks about the study program is mostly anecdotal, and clearly not systematic.

Although there are some things that are more known, like how feminist studies in Scandinavia started at NSU, I want to explore this question more systematically. In this project I want to know everything there is to know about the study program. (Ambitious, right?!) How did it develop over the years? What choices were made, based on what requirements? I want to find out how the conversation changed over the years.

The Nordic Summer University is a voluntary organisation where researchers, artists and basically anybody can start a ‘study circle’: a topic that is discussed during individual circle meetings in the winter and at the summer session, where all circles meet for some days, a week or even longer. The topics of the study circle were apparently interesting and important enough for people to spend their time and energy on, and attracted other people who were interested to discuss these topics together at the Nordic Summer University. Tracing these conversations at NSU therefore means tracing the conversations of the nordic countries, of what was considered important and fundamental to study together in an interdisciplinary and intellectually stimulating environment.

Continue reading “Exploring the Nordic Summer University Archive: tracing the conversation over 70 years of NSU existence”

When the phallic enters – reflection on the NSU feminist philosophy seminar

Reflection on the effect of attacking questions in a feminist philosophy seminar where the aim is to create a space for thinking together.

Some weeks ago I attended a feminist philosophy seminar. A whole week, organised by the Nordic Summer University, in which in total nine different weekly seminars are held simultaneously. One of which I have been attending now for three years: the feminist philosophy circle led by three courageous women. It is an interdisciplinary group, without hierarchies, where bachelor students and emiritus professors get equal space and attention, and increasingly intersectional. It is a week I long for, look forward to, every year. I am not sure what to do without it anymore. And why? Because somehow during their seminars this group manages to create a space where thinking can happen together.

This summer was no exception. And one particular session taught me once again, how delicate that balance is that is needed to achieve this special type of space. And how easily it can be destroyed – and with it, destroy some of the people involved.

Continue reading “When the phallic enters – reflection on the NSU feminist philosophy seminar”

Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University: preparing the research

As part of the project ‘Tracing the Spirit of the Nordic Summer University‘ that culminates in the 70th anniversary of the Nordic Summer University in 2020, several projects have been selected to do (artistic) reseach on a specific those traces. I also applied, and my project was accepted. Which means I’ll be going to the National Archive in Denmark that holds the physical archive of NSU, to do research.

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Teaching (and) writing fiction

The past couple of months I’ve been teaching a course on fiction writing at Volksuniversiteit Eindhoven. It was great, or at least I thought it was. Talking about something I love doing, something that is close to an addiction… writing fiction.

The students were great. They brought in their written work, which we talked about. What are the strengths of this author, what can be improved? What works, what doesn’t work? And most of all… why? When do you stop reading, what do we want to read more of, what is superfluous? But the students also raised great questions, and kept me sharp. Every class I would bring one story from a well-known author as an example, and they’d always ask… why did you want us to read this?

We have one extra meeting coming Tuesday, to discuss some works in progress that we’re aiming to send in to a contest. I’m really looking forward to it, and will also miss having this regular group to discuss writing with.


I’ve also realised that I want to continue reading and writing together with others. And that I like doing that in English, even though this first course was nice, Dutch is not the main language i enjoy writing fiction in. So I’ve started a Discord server and invite people to join who want to get involved with writing fiction as well. If there are enough people who want to do so in Dutch, that is also possible, but for now I’m starting out in English.

Sign up through my newly launched Patreon site and join the discussions, voice chats, assignments, challenges. Every month will focus on a different aspect of writing fiction, with writing challenges to participate in. Maybe I’ll see you there?

And if not online, hopefully in September another course will start at Volksuniversiteit Eindhoven, on creative writing. In English, this time! (Time and dates to be announced)

What Do Mermaids Do in Winter? – Short Story

Her tears froze half-way down her cheeks. Summer had left overnight while he had packed his bags. Why hadn’t she brought gloves?

Marika took up the ball that was laid down at her feet and threw it far away. Rayleigh ran after it, hairs flowing up and down, just a few seconds slower than her small body. A few moments later the dog was back again, ball pressed between teeth.

Continue reading “What Do Mermaids Do in Winter? – Short Story”

The Prison on the Dark Side

It’s always dark on the dark side.

“Get up!”Benjamin was rudely shaken from his slumber. His feet were still cold, but he had just managed to loose consciousness for a few seconds when the guards got to him again.

He started crying.

“Stop crying. We’re going. You know the deal. We have to move you to the other base.”

Benjamin quickly got out of what was supposed to be his bed. A tiny layer of hay and a blanket that had seen better days. He knew better than to ask if he could bring his blanket. When he’d have this blanket and the blanket that was waiting for him at the other prison together,  he’d probably be able to sleep a bit.  Continue reading “The Prison on the Dark Side”