Prof. Dr. Gemma BlokOpen University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, Netherlands
Gemma Blok (1970) is a specialist in the history of mental health care, social movements in mental health, and the history of alcohol and drug use, with a particular expertise in Dutch history. She received her PhD in 2004 for a dissertation on the impact of the so called antipsychiatry movement in the Netherlands. From 2005-2009 she conducted a postdoctoral research on the history of Dutch addiction treatment, with an individual research grant from the Dutch Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO). From 2009 onwards she has taught Dutch history at the University of Amsterdam, before her appointment as professor in Modern History at the Open University of the Netherlands in 2017.
Her current interests focus on the social and cultural histories of alcohol and drugs in the modern period. She has analysed state and urban policies and surveillance regimes regarding drug and alcohol use, for instance focussing on debates regarding methadone maintenance during the ‘epidemic’ of heroin use in the 1970s and 1980s. Also, she looks at individual and subcultural consumption practices of alcohol and drugs. Offering a bottom up perspective, using autobiographical novels, memoirs, and oral history interviews, she attempts to uncover the agency of the ordinary drinker and drug user in history, and enhance our understanding of the significant historical fluctuations of the use of intoxicants.