Mapping the American Century


About this Collection

The United States has long been a superpower in the world. As a result, it has had a lot of influence on other countries. This spreading of American influence is often referred to as Americanization. While Americanization is often linked to politics or the economy, it can also be linked to culture. Ever since the end of World War II, the United States has actively exported its culture to other countries, which is why Hollywood blockbusters are often more popular than movies from the local film industry.

Varieties of Americanization

This exhibit intends to explore and explain how Americanization is visible in different aspects of culture. Two items will focus on movies, one of which is about American propaganda in the Netherlands during WWII, and the other will focus on American blockbusters from the 1990s. Two other items will focus on hip hop. They will look at Nederhop, and the influence of African-American female hip hop artists on Dutch female hip hop artist. Another item shines a light on the influence of American culture and consumerism on Valentine’s Day in Germany. Finally, the last project focusses on the way fanfiction can show how a new hybrid of American and Dutch culture is developing. These different projects will cover different eras to show how Americanization and our understanding of the concept has changed over the years. It will also aim to show that Americanization is still very much alive and that it might be hiding in some unexpected places.   

Fanfiction and Americanization

Young Adult Literature has become increasingly popular. The number of novels within the genre in 2009 was ten times more than in 1997. The rise of Young Adult Literature is not just something found in the US, but in other countries as well. In countries like the Netherlands the genre has become a staple for teens and young adults.

Image © Schramowski 2020

Why we fight

Shortly after the end of World War II, multiple Dutch newspaper printed reviews of Why We Fight, an American documentary series that was shot to explain the purpose of the war to the American people. Coincidentally, it could also be used to sell the war – and the United States – to European audiences.

Image © Het Parool 1945

Americanization of hip hop music in the Netherlands

the creation of a new music genre

Hip hop culture originated in the United States in the 1970s, but as hip hop and rap music became more popular in the United States in the years after that, it also started to spread globally and it became a large influence all over the world. Local artists began adapting it to reach an audience in their own country, which was also the case in the Netherlands

Image © Algemeen Dagblad 1995

The power of hollywood

Does the cultural power of American films , and thus their popular status, mean all of us are completely Americanized? And if so, should one be wary of this American influence on Dutch popular culture?

Image © BrianMoranHDR

Americanization of contemporary female hip-hop artists

Women, and especially women of color are often degraded and disrespectfully sexualized in hip-hop music performed by men. To turn this negative representation around, African American women in pop and hip-hop music use sexualization as a form of self-empowerment and sexual liberation.

Image © Caza and Femke Louise 2018

Valentine's day and the americanization of Germany after world war ii

Thanksgiving dinners, Super Bowl parties, gender reveals – many American holidays and celebrations have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in recent years. While some Europeans are excited about participating in these new traditions, others complain that European culture is becoming too “Americanized.”

Image © L Prang & Co. 1883