Ernst van den Hemel is a postdoctoral researcher at the Meertens Institute, part of the Humanities Cluster of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research focusses on the entanglements of religion, nationalism and heritage. Currently, he is coordinating a research project on Populism, Religion and Social Media. His recent publications include The Secular Sacred. Emotions of Belonging and the Perils of Religion and Nationalism (Palgrave 2020, edited with Irene Stengs and Markus Balkenhol), Passie voor de Passie: de Matthäus, The Passion en andere Passiespelen in Ontkerkelijkt Nederland (Passion for the Passion: Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion, The Passion and other Passion Plays in secularized Dutch society).
As part of the HERILIGION project Ernst explores the popularity of passion plays in contemporary Dutch society. By conducting ethnographic fieldwork into the performances of Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion and the multimedia spectacle The Passion, he examines what drives the popularity of these passion plays in contemporary Dutch society.