White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race


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In White Innocence Gloria Wekker explores a central paradox of Dutch life—the passionate denial of racial discrimination and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia—to show how the narrative of Dutch racial exceptionalism elides the Netherland's colonial past and safeguards white privilege. Accessing a cultural archive built over years of Dutch colonial rule, Wekker fundamentally challenges Dutch racial exceptionalism by undermining the dominant narrative of the Netherlands as a "gentle" and "ethical" nation.

White Innocence

More options. Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references pages and index.

Contents Acknowledgments ix Introduction 1 1. The House That Race Built 50 3.

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Accessing a cultural archive built over years of Dutch colonial rule, Wekker fundamentally challenges Dutch racial exceptionalism by undermining the dominant narrative of the Netherlands as a "gentle" and "ethical" nation. Wekker analyzes the Dutch media's portrayal of black women and men, the failure to grasp race in the Dutch academy, contemporary conservative politics including gay politicians espousing anti-immigrant rhetoric , and the controversy surrounding the folkloric character Black Pete, showing how the denial of racism and the expression of innocence safeguards white privilege.

Wekker uncovers the postcolonial legacy of race and its role in shaping the white Dutch self, presenting the contested, persistent legacy of racism in the country.

Bibliographic information. Browse related items Start at call number: DJ Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race , written by emeritus professor of Gender and Ethnicity Gloria Wekker, is a valuable companion in the many inevitable discussions on Dutch racism to come. During the last decade, the discussion on racism in the Netherlands has gained in intensity year after year.


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Especially during the weeks preceding the 6 th of December, leading to passionate debates and protests by advocates and opponents of the concept of Black Pete. When UN functionary Verene Shepherd uttered strong criticism on the tradition of Black Pete in , many Dutch people were shocked and felt attacked.

After her return, she noticed interracial situations that would be totally unacceptable in an American context while the subject of race as a social and symbolic categorising principle was avoided and even denied. Her book is intended as an exploration of this paradox at the heart of the Dutch nation: somehow, people have convinced themselves that, miraculously, a long history of imperialism has not left a single trace in Dutch culture, institutions, or representations of the self and the other.


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Basing her argument on the theories of Edward Said and Ann Laura Stoler, Wekker convincingly argues that a cultural archive, made up of over four hundred years of Dutch imperialism, unconsciously influences Dutch meaning-making processes, including a specific sense of self and the way racial and ethnic minorities are conceptualised. The book provides a strong argument for this thesis of a Dutch feeling of innocence in matters of race, which is paired to a cultural archive of strong colonial experiences.

Chapter two discusses how Dutch policy makers and academia — especially the discipline of gender studies — deal with the concept of race. All in all, Wekker provides a strong argument, although the narrative is somewhat unstructured at times, and it does contain some unnecessary repetition.

Review ‘White Innocence’ – Raffia

She does not refrain from examples that show her personal involvement in the subjects she analyses. The book, then, should not be seen as a work that aims to convince the broader Dutch public to let go of their feeling of white innocence, but it does provide anyone who is open to her criticism of Dutch culture, with a valuable overview of and introduction to a subject that certainly needs to be studied and discussed more.

As Wekker argues in the conclusion to her work, stories can change the status quo.

White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race

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