Combined Academic Publishers

White Innocence

9780822360599: Hardback
Release Date: 29th April 2016

9780822360759: Paperback
Release Date: 29th April 2016

2 photographs

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 240

Duke University Press Books

White Innocence

Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race

In White Innocence Gloria Wekker explores a central paradox of Dutch life—the passionate denial of racial discrimination and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia—to show how the narrative of Dutch racial exceptionalism elides the Netherland's colonial past and safeguards white privilege.
Hardback / £69.00
Paperback / £17.99

In White Innocence Gloria Wekker explores a central paradox of Dutch culture: the passionate denial of racial discrimination and colonial violence coexisting alongside aggressive racism and xenophobia. Accessing a cultural archive built over 400 years of Dutch colonial rule, Wekker fundamentally challenges Dutch racial exceptionalism by undermining the dominant narrative of the Netherlands as a "gentle" and "ethical" nation. Wekker analyzes the Dutch media's portrayal of black women and men, the failure to grasp race in the Dutch academy, contemporary conservative politics (including gay politicians espousing anti-immigrant rhetoric), and the controversy surrounding the folkloric character Black Pete, showing how the denial of racism and the expression of innocence safeguards white privilege. Wekker uncovers the postcolonial legacy of race and its role in shaping the white Dutch self, presenting the contested, persistent legacy of racism in the country.

Acknowledgments  ix

Introduction  1

1. "Suppose She Brings a Big Negro Home": Case Studies of Everyday Racism  30

2. The House That Race Built  50

3. The Coded Language of Hottentot Nymphae and the Discursive Presence of Race, 1917  81

4. Of Homo Nostalgia and (Post)Coloniality: Or, Where Did All the Critical White Gay Men Go?  108

5. "For Even Though I Am Black as Soot, My Intentions Are Good": The Case of Black Pete  139

Coda. "But What about the Captain?"  168

Notes  175

References  193

Index  215

Gloria Wekker is Professor Emeritus of Gender Studies at Utrecht University and the author of several books, including The Politics of Passion: Women's Sexual Culture in the Afro-Surinamese Diaspora.

?"White Innocence explains why white Dutch people seem unable to grasp the racism of Zwarte Piet: Assured of their own social progressivism, they can a priori think and therefore do no wrong. . . . ? Wekker concludes her work with a plea for 'another "embarrassment of riches,"' for acknowledging the racism staring us in the face. In the United States, we might start by recognizing that there is, and always has been, no more audacious identity politics than white identity politics, as Trump and his white-supremacist ilk gleefully demonstrate. At least the illusion of innocence has been stripped away. Or perhaps not?"
 

Nick Barr Clingan
The Nation

"White Innocence exposes how Dutch racism is infused with classism, sexism, and homophobia in discussions of everyday racism that includes [Wekker's] own personal exoticization as a child and criminalization as an adult, TV talk shows and films, experiences of mixed-race families, white gay liberation that constitutes Dutch homonationalism . . . and the 'siloing' of gender and race/ethnicity in politics and academics that makes intersectional policy and scholarship impossible. In doing so, Wekker reveals the very real personal consequences for people of color when their very existence is in service of white people."

Melissa F. Weiner
Journal of Anthropological Research