Rewilding River Histories

On 22 May 2019, during the colloquium of the Arts, Media and Culture research group of Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, I led a Meuse excursion. During the walk, which took place in a rewilded section of the river near Borgharen, we did an ethnographic exploration of sorts at the Grensmaas or Border Meuse.

This “most natural” part of the Meuse, just 5km north of Maastricht, became an important source of inspiration for the revitalization of rivers in the Netherlands. While we traversed the newly designed wilderness I invited participants to join me on a double journey. One was to explore notions such as wild and wilderness vis-a-vis the rogue, fleeting or broken natures of the Meuse; the other was to walk as a way of rewilding the historical imagination of the river. How can the Meuse walk allow for an undisciplined understanding of the river’s past and present?