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Conference – Slavery in the Cultural Imagination Voices of Dissent in the Neerlandophone Space, 17th-21st Century


The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH), and Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) are co-convening a two-day conference on the cultural imagination of slavery. The conference will be held on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 October 2021 at the universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht.

The members of the organising committee are Dr Saskia Pieterse (Utrecht University), Dr Marrigje Paijmans (University of Amsterdam), Dr Karwan Fatah Black, Prof. Yra van Dijk and Aafje de Roest MA (Leiden University).

The conference offers an educational programme of 2 ECTs for rMA and PhD students (priority will be given to members of OSL, NICA and Huizinga Institute). The registration for this programme opens in September, through the NICA-website.

About the Conference

Four hundred years of colonial history and involvement in slavery and indenture have left palpable traces in the emotions and imagination of the Dutch (Wekker 2016, Hoving 2012). Yet ‘Dutch exceptionalism’ and the ubiquitous myth of the Netherlands being a ‘colour blind’ country, has heavily glossed over these traces (Mathijsen 2019). The lack of awareness about the role of the Netherlands in slave trade and the anti-black and orientalist cultural production that accompanied it, stems from a complex merger of political, economic and cultural interests that prohibit the prospering of a critical understanding of Dutch racism and its history. This conference acts on the urgent need for knowledge of the Dutch colonial past and its current impact by bridging the compartmentalisation of the study of the Dutch colonial past (Stoler 1995; Snelders 2018). In doing so, it strives to move beyond ‘Dutch exceptionalism’, without ignoring the specific Dutch context.

Confirmed keynotes: Prof Hasana Sharp, McGill University, Prof Marlene Daut, University of Virginia

Educational Programme

The conference offers (r)MA and PhD students an educational programme of 2 ECT (56 hours), in collaboration with research schools OSL, NICA and Huizinga. The programme consists in five activities. Activity 3 is specially organized for students. It is mandatory and involves three fifteen minutes ‘speed dates’ of students with a keynote and panel members.


  Activities Hours work
1 Preparation of a reading list and research questions. The reading list will consist of three keynote texts and one relevant text selected by the student. The motivation for the selected text and the research question should be submitted to the conference organisers in advance. 24
2 Participation in the two-day conference. 16
3 Session with student pitches
4 Participation in the group Q&A with keynote III and panel members.
4 Writing a paper (+/- 1000 words) in which students discuss and answer their own research questions and reflect on the conference. Submission deadline: Monday November 15th, 17h. 10
5 Peer review of a fellow student’s paper, to be submitted with the final paper. 6


The paper will be graded as pass / fail.



Please register via this link. Visit the conference website here.
Students can direct questions about the educational programme to Marrigje Paijmans (