Gemma van der Haar
Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Willem’s life was all about books. Where ever he was, he surrounded himself with books to feel at home. Books accompanied him on all his travels. But it was the making of books that he cherished most. Every book marked an episode of his life.
The book on social movements – from which Tabula Rasa is now publishing the chapter by Willem- was his first major achievement- and unquestionably a highlight to him. Whenever Willem mentioned the book, his eyes radiated with enthusiasm. He was really proud of it – though he was the first to admit to the shortcomings (starting with his chapter being very long). There is no doubt that he had immensely enjoyed the making of it. Willem started working on this book with his colleagues and ‘partners in crime’ Ton Salman and Gerrit Burgwal when they had just become PhD students at the CEDLA institute in Amsterdam. The three of them worked in a research programme on urban social movements in Latin America, directed by Geert Banck and David Slater. Willem could now dedicate himself fully to what he most liked: reading, thinking, discussing, writing. Here, in this environment of intense intellectual activity, his talents could flourish. The ingredients for Willem’s academic productivity were simple but essential: good books, good company, good coffee, cigarettes and wine, good food and good music to accompany it all.
The book on social movements was overflowing with ideas. The three friends put the best of themselves into it. They had so much to share with the world: This is how we should look at social movements, these are the questions we should ask, this is what we should read! It would have given Willem enormous joy to know that the book is still being read and is now, thanks to this issue of Tabula Rasa, disclosed to a partly new readership.