May 4, 2021 “Beyond White Innocence in Dutch Society and the Academy”

Co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Sociology, The Social Justice Institute presents:


“Beyond White Innocence in Dutch Society and the Academy”

An online talk by Dr. Gloria Wekker, Cultural Anthropologist and Professor Emerita of the Gender Studies Department, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Date: Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Time: 11 AM PDT – 12 PM PDT

Please RSVP by 9:00 on Tuesday, May 4th at:


In my book “White Innocence; Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race” (2016), I investigated the ways in which we keep the myth alive that four hundred years of imperialism has not left any traces in the metropolitan part of Empire, The Netherlands. To that end, I explored the cherished self-narratives that we, the Dutch, like to tell ourselves about who we are and I pointed to the stark social discrepancies that exist with those rosy, self-flattering narratives. It is White Innocence that enables us to hold on to those beloved narratives.

In my presentation I will explore the concept of race as a highly underestimated part of our general and academic knowledge production in the Netherlands. I understand race as a silent but powerful organizer of our culture, of our self-representations and the representations of the Other, of our language and institutions and of society as a whole. I will present some case studies of everyday racism, as it is evident on TV and in everyday encounters. In addition, I will explore the role that White innocence plays in several disciplines in the academy and in widespread practices in that institution.

Speaker Bio:

Gloria Wekker is a cultural anthropologist and professor emerita of the Gender Studies Department, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Specializing in Gender Studies, African Diaspora Studies and Sexuality Studies, she is the author of The Politics of Passion; Women’s sexual Culture in the Afro-Surinamese Diaspora (Columbia University Press, 2006), for which she won the Ruth Benedict Prize of American Anthropological Association (2007). Her most recent book is White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race (Duke Univ. Press, 2016), which is an ethnography of white Dutch self-representation.

Wekker has published widely on many different topics and also writes poetry and prose.

In 2015-16, she served as the chair of the Diversity Commission at the University of Amsterdam. In 2017, she received the governmental Joke Smit prize for her efforts on behalf of women’s emancipation; was elected one of the ten most influential academics in the Netherlands and received a Black Achievement Award for her academic work. Between 2019- 2021 she holds the King Willem-Alexander Chair of Low Lands Studies at the University of Liège, Belgium.