Dr Gemma Blok

Assistant Professor in Modern Dutch History


I am a historian of mental health and working as an assistant professor in modern Dutch History at the University of Amsterdam. My primary research interest is in investigating how shifting treatment regimes in the field of mental health are connected to broader social and cultural changes. So far, I have published mostly on the history of antipsychiatry, community psychiatry, and addiction treatment in the Netherlands. Currently I am working on an oral history project with regard to the ‘epidemic’ of heroin use in Holland during the 1970s and 1980s. Interviewing (former) heroin users will hopefully enlarge our understanding of how and why heroin use increased so rapidly in this period. In order to arrive at a better grasp of drug use and addiction as historical phenomena and modern social and medical realities, we will have to take into account the perspective of the users themselves as well.