Identites in the Making. Dutch Colonialisms and Postcolonial Presents. UC Berkeley Dec 3-4, 2014

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UC Berkeley Dutch Studies

Identities in the Making - Dutch Colonialisms and Postcolonial Presents
Graduate students conference, December 3-4, 2014, University of California, Berkeley
With a keynote lecture by Rudolf Mrázek (Univ. Michigan) and a panel discussion on 'zwarte piet'

The Dutch Studies Program of the University of California, Berkeley invites graduate students from different disciplinary backgrounds to present a paper that relates to the history and legacy of Dutch colonialisms.

Cultural identities are essential in defining who we are, where we come from and where we are going: 'identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past', as Stuart Hall famously wrote in 'Cultural Identity and Diaspora' (1989). Identities are not stable and transparent, but in constant transition and under the influence of various structures of power and representation. How were and are identities constructed, transformed and represented in the post/colonial history of the Netherlands?

Dutch colonial history gives Dutch culture a global dimension: Dutch colonial presence stretched from Surinam and the Carribean to Southeast Asia, early settlements could be found in New York and South Africa and some Carribean islands are still a part of the Dutch kingdom. Dutch present day multiethnic society, with its postcolonial diaspora communities and its various other immigrants, is heavily entangled with the Netherlands' colonial past. This conference aims to explore the importance of the formation and representation of identities in the colonial history and postcolonial present of the Netherlands and its former colonies. How could identities be enunciated in the colonial regime of representation? How did the postcolonial nations denounce their former colonizers in the articulation of their national identities? And what role does the colonial legacy play in narratives of 'Dutchness' in the Netherlands today?

Graduate students are invited to submit a paper that explores the making of post/colonial identities in relation to Dutch colonial history. Presenters may have a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds, such as literature, history, media, art history, anthropology and political science and are invited to interpret the conference topic liberally. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
● formation and representation of post/colonial identities: in literature, art, museums, etc.
● diasporic identities : Dutch Carribean, Surinamese, Indo, Moluccan, etc.
● history and experience of slavery
● early Dutch settlements: Dutch New York, South Africa, ….
● rise of nationalism in the colonies
● race and ethnicity in Dutch multicultural society
● applicability of postcolonial theories of identity on Dutch context
● Dutch racism
● memories of empire and colonial legacies
● colonialism and globalization
Participants have the opportunity to submit their papers, in extended and annotated form, to the peer-reviewed journal Dutch Crossing, which will publish a selection of the conference proceedings.

Students wishing to participate can send a 250-word abstract and a short CV to by November 1, 2014. Presentations should last no longer than 20 minutes.

Keynote lecture and panel discussion
We are proud to announce that Professor Rudolf Mrázek will give a keynote lecture at the conference on December 3.
Rudolf Mrázek is Professor Emeritus at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. Mrázek published extensively on the history of colonial and modern Indonesia. He is the author of, among others, Engineers of Happy Land. Technology and Nationalism in a Colony (2002) and Sjahrir: Politics and Exile in Indonesia (1994). Throughout the 1990s, Mrázek interviewed elderly Indonesian intellectuals about their memories of colonial Indonesia, which he collected in the unconventional A Certain Age. Colonial Jakarta Through the Memories of its Intellectuals (2009).

Furthermore, we are pleased to announce the seminar 'Blackness in European Folklore tradition - The Dutch Case: Black Pete' that will discuss the controversial Dutch blackface tradition of 'zwarte piet' from several perspectives and shed light on its historical and political contexts.
With dr. Kwame Nimako (UC Berkeley), Quinsy Gario (Dutch activist and artist, via Skype), and others.
December 4, 2014. 6 pm to 8 pm. More information will follow.