Science
Anneke Mulder-Bakker Photo by Reyer Boxem

Retirement? What’s that? #1Anneke Mulder-Bakker

‘I’m no fun when I don’t have anything to study’

Anneke Mulder-Bakker Photo by Reyer Boxem
Anneke Mulder-Bakker (81) is one of several retired professors at the UG who don’t know how to quit. The medievalist continued to contribute to international research long after she’d retired and keeps writing book after book.
24 November om 9:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 30 November 2021
om 17:15 uur.
November 24 at 9:04 AM.
Last modified on November 30, 2021
at 17:15 PM.

Door Rob van der Wal

24 November om 9:04 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 30 November 2021
om 17:15 uur.

By Rob van der Wal

November 24 at 9:04 AM.
Last modified on November 30, 2021
at 17:15 PM.

Rob van der Wal

After her official retirement, historian Anneke Mulder-Bakker finally had time to work on her passion without interference from the university. She could now devote all her time to her project on the misfits of history, specifically female recluses in the Middle Ages. These anchoresses were women who turned their back on society to serve God and dispense advice.

At the university, historical research usually focuses on people in power or important religious figures. People who determined the course of history. That means there was no room for her research on anchoresses.

Anchoress

‘But these misfits, like the anchoresses, functioned as confidants’, says Mulder-Bakker. That was an important position in society, she says. ‘They were available to hear people’s problems day and night.’ The Martini church in Groningen also had an anchoress. ‘As far as I’m concerned, she was just as valuable as the priest who was only available on Sunday.’

Retired people were just supposed to disappear

Now that Mulder-Bakker is retired, she doesn’t have to deal with money and grants from the university or research groups anymore; these days, she writes her own grant proposals. That also means her research doesn’t have to meet any strict requirements anymore.

She’s critical of the way the university treats its pensioners. ‘I did manage to convince them to let me keep my personnel number, to access the library and the proxy server’, she says. ‘But anything else, the UG consistently refused to do. Retired people are just supposed to disappear.’ She would’ve loved to put together a faculty for seniors with other retired professors, but her plans didn’t gain any support.

Leiden

At least her books are appreciated. ‘There’s a lack of internationally appreciated publications by UG researchers’, she says. ‘But when you want something in return, like the secretariat taking care of something, it gets tricky.’

The United States and Germany are a lot more invested in their pensioners than the Netherlands 

Thanks to her contacts, she was able to do her research on anchoresses in Leiden. She worked as a guest researcher for four years, and she and her research group made it to the finals of the Academische Jaarpijs, awarded to the research team that makes groundbreaking academic research accessible to the general public.

But she didn’t stop at Leiden. ‘The United States and Germany are a lot more invested in their pensioners than the Netherlands’, she says. So she went to the US, where she had worked before as a guest professor of history and gender studies. ‘It was a great match with my research subject: women in history.’ In Erfurt, Germany, she participated in a large international study on religious individuals when she was seventy-five.

Convent

Mulder-Bakker still isn’t done. She’s currently studying medieval convent Yesse near Haren, where students regularly perform excavations. She also continues to study her ‘learned’ recluses. ‘I’d love to write another book on that.’

There’s no stopping her. ‘If I told my husband I was quitting, he’d probably try to forbid me from doing so’, she says, laughing. ‘I’m no fun when I don’t have anything to study.’

Retirement? What’s that?

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