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The Contested Past: Dutch Colonialism Now

Language of instruction: Engels

About the theme: In the Netherlands, colonialism continues to be visible in the present. We will take a closer look at a number of controversial and contested subjects and investigate the academic and public debates surrounding them.

Colonialism continues to be visible in daily life, ranging from museum collections, street names, novels, statues, dishes and national traditions, all reflecting the legacies of colonialism. The perception of the contested colonial past can differ immensely and regularly leads to debate, protest and mutual incomprehension. These discussions are held in the media, politics, art, daily life, and certainly among academics.

In this module, we ask ourselves how representations of the colonial past are dealt with in the Netherlands now. We will take a closer look at a number of controversial and contested subjects and investigate the academic and public debates surrounding them. We will discuss the influence of postcolonial studies on the humanities. To broaden our lens we will also engage in conversations with activists, photographers and others outside academia, and assess how other countries are dealing with their colonial past. The central question is what role do the humanities – and other academic disciplines –occupy in these public debates on the interaction of the colonial past and the Dutch present?

Lecturer: Sanne Ravensbergen studied History in Leiden. She conducted research in Indonesia on colonial criminal law, local elites and state formation during the nineteenth century. She is currently working as a lecturer at the History Department.

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