Arnon Grunberg investigates blind obedience

On Thursday, 14 May, Writer in Residence Arnon Grunberg will give the 2020 Abraham Kuyper Lecture. The theme of this year’s programme, which will be video-streamed due to the corona crisis, is blind obedience.

04/16/2020 | 11:49 AM

If necessary, we defend our democracy by force. But the force which the state uses to protect us also creates victims: soldiers are deployed to warzones, and people who are deemed a threat to society are placed in secure institutions. 

How do we think and talk about these modern-day human sacrifices? Grunberg explored these questions with reference to Kierkegaard’s philosophical classic Fear and Trembling. He was assisted by a number of students.

Host of the programme is author and former Writer in Residence Christine Otten. Philosopher Victor Kal and Professor of Modern Dutch Literature Jacqueline Bel will respond to the lecture.

Christine Otten and Arnon Grunberg discuss the Writer in Residence student project. Students tried to formulate a preamble - a kind of introduction to the constitution containing ideals, underlying philosophy and context.

Grunberg will also engage in conversation with Charlotte Bouwman, a young writer and journalist known for her months of protest at the Binnenhof against the lengthy waiting lists for mental health services. The mental health system, of course, is also a battleground where human sacrifices are made.

Bastiaan Everink talks about his life as a marine and opera singer. Then we listen to a recording of an aria from the opera 'Hercules’ about the life of Bastiaan Everink. 

Rector magnificus Vinod Subramaniam presents the first copy of the essay Blind Obedience to Arnon Grunberg. Everyone who signs up for the video stream will receive a free digital copy of the essay. VU Amsterdam staff and students will also receive this digital version. Physical copies of the essay can be ordered for €10,--.

More information:

With the annual Abraham Kuyper Lecture by the Writer in Residence of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam honours its unique founder. The Abraham Kuyper Lecture is organised in collaboration with VUvereniging, the Faculty of Humanities, and VU University Press.

Kuyper Year
It is now 140 years since Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) founded Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In 2020, one century after his death, Kuyper’s initiatives continue to spark ideas and actions aimed at furthering the goals of democracy, diversity and social enterprise. Throughout this anniversary year, the university will be shining a light on the inspiring legacy of this ground-breaking social innovator. Keep up to date with all the activities on