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   Cor Baerveldt
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   Harry Kempen
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In memoriam Harry Kempen

On March 26th 2000 our most dear colleague Harry Kempen died. Harry had already left our group in 1996, because he suffered from a terrible depression. His sudden death, after an unfortunate accident at home, came too early, even though we all were prepared that something terrible could happen. Although he published several interesting articles in the American Psychologist and other journals with his friend and collaborator Hubert Hermans, and wrote together with him the important and highly esteemed book The Dialogical Self, this was clearly not enough to appease his mind, and to give him a feeling of worth, freed from guilt and nagging, destructive forces deep inside him.

Harry has been a real cultural psychologist. In a very early piece of unpublished writing in 1972, with the charming title "From the cabinet of exotic comportment to a general theory of behavior", he already outlined a cultural psychology, that was critical of psychology itself, but at the same time stimulating all of us to look beyond culture. He has stamped the Nijmegen Cultural Psychology Group as no one else has done. His good humor, friendliness, generosity and unprecedented erudition have set the standard for us all.

Although Harry has been a major source of inspiration for generations of students and colleagues, he also suffered from a writing bloc that undermined his authority at times. It was only in the last years of his life that he came to writing, predominantly in his close cooperation with Hubert Hermans. But that does not preclude that we all owe him a lot. We are thankful for what he wrote in the end, but foremost for who he was amongst us: a man with great endurance, who fought for a better psychology all his life, and who remained a critic of our world in all its facets. We liked him particularly for his exuberant, carefree lifestyle: the times he was in good condition he was really a feast to be with.

The Nijmegen Cultural Psychology Group

Click here to see an overview of Harry's most recent work


Last updated: August 2000
Maintained by Cor Baerveldt