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Shades of Pale: Exploring Whiteness in Neerlandophone Literature

19 november

Acknowledging that the decolonisation of academia in Flanders and the Netherlands has scarcely begun, and that the grammar of race is intricately entwined with humanities research and its objects of study, we dedicate this meeting of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings to a thorough examination of the multiple layers of whiteness that mark Neerlandophone literature as well as Dutch literary studies. We aim to address the invisibility of whiteness, probing whiteness as a key component of the grammar of race in Dutch and Flemish society and as an unmarked and under-analyzed presence in many works of Neerlandophone literature. In exposing and exploring the many shades of this Dutch and Flemish whiteness, recognising yet also moving beyond the highly discursive notions of white privilege and white innocence, we hope to fathom what whiteness has meant and continues to mean in Neerlandophone literature.

Our meeting starts with a keynote lecture by dr. Mikki Stelder, whose expertise ranges from Dutch colonial and racist entanglements, in particular those concerning the maritime trade and slavery, to their re-narrations in the present. Their lecture is followed by a discussion of their ideas on historicizing Dutch white innocence and by a joint close reading of selected essays on the topic of whiteness in the Low Countries. In the afternoon, we continue our exploration of shades of Dutch and Flemish whiteness by means of three  contributions on the meeting’s topic by (junior) researchers working in this field. We conclude our meeting with a joint on-the-spot analysis of some fragments from the novel Gebroken wit (2019) by Astrid Roemer.

The meeting is open to all researchers – junior and senior – working in the fields of Low Countries Studies, postcolonial and globalization studies. Participation is free of charge, but please register with NICA on this webpage ( Active participation by Research Master students may be credited with 1 or 2 EC (without/with presentation). When registering, please indicate whether you would like to earn 1 or 2 ECTS for your participation. For more information, contact Platform co-ordinator Liesbeth Minnaard ( or guest organisers Lieselot De Taeye ( or Marrigje Paijmans (




Platform for Postcolonial Readings