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M. (Mathijs) Boom MA

Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Science

Visiting address
  • Science Park 904
Postal address
  • Postbus 94224
    1090 GE Amsterdam
Contact details
Social media
  • Profiel

    I am a PhD candidate at the Department of History at the University of Amsterdam. My PhD project explores the study of Earth's own history in the Low Countries from 1740 to 1840. This period saw the establishment of geology as an independent discipline, concerned with the study of 'deep time'. My dissertation aims to show not just how the notion of deep time was developed, but also why it became the focus of learned debate. I seek to understand what kind of particular political and cultural attachments it emerged with, how the materiality, social relationships, and imaginations of a particular place shaped knowledge that became part of today’s geological sense of time. What kinds of engagements with nature made the imagination of a deep past possible? How did Enlightenment ideas about religion, cosmology, epistemology, human history, and the utility of nature filter into the concept of deep time as it emerged from the imagination of European naturalists? How did they come to distinguish between the 'shallow' time of human history and the immeasurable depths of Earth's past?

    My dissertation explores these questions in the Low Countries—the modern Netherlands and Belgium. I use this geographical lens to chart the ways in which particular natural and cultural landscapes gave rise to different ways of thinking about the ancient past.

    My research is funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

    In addition to my research, I've taught several courses. Most recently, I co-designed a honours course in the History of Environmentalism for the UvA's Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. In 2019-2020, together with Wouter de Vries (VU), I curated the exhibition 'A Look Inside the Earth' (Kijken in de Aarde) for Teylers Museum in Haarlem, displaying the way in which eighteenth- and nineteenth-century authors imagined and depicted the insides of our planet.

    My interests range from early modern intellectual and environmental history to more recent histories of science, environmentalism, and environmental politics.

  • Publications


    • Boom, M. (2014). Against Enlightened abstraction: The historical thought of Adriaan Kluit. De achttiende eeuw, 46(2), 128-154.


    • Boom, M. (2019). A Catastrophist’s View of Human Progress: François-Xavier de Burtin’s History of the Earth. Paper presented at International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2019, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
    • Boom, M. (2019). Nature and Culture in the History of the Earth. Paper presented at History of Science Society Annual Meeting 2019, Utrecht, Netherlands.
    • Boom, M. (2019). Striking Humans from Earth’s History: Reshaping the Planet’s Past in the 1780’s. Paper presented at 8th Gewina Meeting of Historians of Science in the Low Countries, .


    • Boom, M. (2018). Striking Humans from Earth’s History: Teylers’ 1784 Prize Question in Natural History. Paper presented at The Making of the Humanities , Amsterdam , Netherlands.

    Media appearance

    • Boom, M. (01-07-2019). De tijden van mens en aarde [Print] Wijsgerig Perspectief. De tijden van mens en aarde.

    Talk / presentation

    • Boom, M. (speaker) (3-6-2019). Unearthing the deep past in the eighteenth-century Low Countries.


    • Boom, M. (organiser) (8-5-2019 - 9-5-2019). Deep History in the Long 18th Century, Amsterdam. Over the course of the eighteenth century, natural history became the history of nature. European naturalists, historians, biblical scholars, (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • Universiteit Utrecht
      Aanstelling als docent aan de Universiteit Utrecht