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Honoursmodule: What is Whiteness in the Netherlands, and beyond?

This course asks ‘what is Whiteness in the Netherlands, and beyond?’ For a long time, social inquiry has been blind to majority groups, but to understand how the norms of the majority stand in relation to ethnic and racialized minorities, we need to probe the concept of Whiteness.

In June 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations protesting institutionalized police brutality against non-White communities, rippled across the US and Europe, with thousands demonstrating in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and beyond. In 2022, the so-called ‘Toeslagenaffaire’ – a scandal whereby the tax office targeted non-majority groups for close inspections - led the Dutch government and tax office to admit that they had engaged in ‘institutional racism’. For over a decade, the slogan ‘Zwarte Piet is Racisme’ and protests surrounding the national ‘Sinterklaas’ fest have called for attention to racist imagery in Dutch folklore. And in recent ‘integration debates’ centered on the position of immigrant groups and their children, commentators and politicians engaged in ‘Islam-criticism’, effectively arguing that Muslims are alien to European society. 

While cherry-picked amongst many, the examples above show how central notions of race and racism are to understanding Dutch society. While many still grapple with these concepts, fearing that the language of race could lead to further polarization, or doubting is applicability within the Dutch context, debates about racism have become prevalent in the Dutch political and cultural landscapes. Such conversations tend to focus on racialized ‘others’ and ethnic minorities. But, if we talk about Black, ethnic minority, or racialized groups, who is perceived as the norm, the quintessential - non-racialized - Dutch? Or, to put it differently, who and what is White? 

The course will be a joint exploration of Whiteness in the Dutch and Western European contexts. Our starting point is that Whiteness is a social construct that is predicated on White dominance and non-White subordination, which derives its meaning from socio-historical processes. 
The seminars will introduce students to conceptualizations of race and Whiteness and its history, while also addressing the sensitivities in discussions of race and racism. Later, we will move to studies that illustrate how Whiteness may operate in everyday urban life, in popular culture, security, environmentalism, and in representational politics. 

Timetable

You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Registration

Registration is possible for second or higher year students participating in an Honours programme. The registration for the Honours courses will start on November 29, 10 am -  December 6, 11 pm, You can register through the online registration form that will appear on Honoursmodules IIS(registration is NOT through SIS or GLASS).

Please note: There is no guarantee for placement if you register after 6 December, so make sure you register on time. You will hear which course(s) you are registered for before 20 december. For questions about registration, please contact us at Honours-iis@uva.nl.

More information

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in February