17 SES 03, Paper Session
In the Netherlands, minority cultures are often perceived as being ‘other’, while Dutch dominant culture persists to be the norm (Essed, 1991; Davis & Nencel, 2011). As Essed and Hoving (2014: p.16) argue: ‘otherness is tolerated, but not directly engaged with’. ‘Otherness’ is frequently associated with ‘non-Dutchness’, while ‘Dutchness’ in turn, is often related to ‘whiteness’. Weiner (2015: p.733) states: “To be “Dutch” is to be “white,” and with this identity come special privileges (Essed & Trienekens, 2008) in all realms of Dutch society.” However, the Dutch do not generally appoint themselves as being white, since, it is often seen as normal or even as a ‘default setting’. Consequently, most Dutch do not consider themselves to be privileged by their whiteness (Davis & Nencel, 2011). Instead, individual merit is seen as the key to success. In effect, minority cultures are perceived as the cause (instead of structural inequalities) for individuals’ position within social structures in relation to wealth, income, occupation, and foremost: education (Essed & Trienekens, 2008). By emphasizing the idea that education is a meritocracy, structural features (like racism and systemic exclusion) are thought to be irrelevant and individual effort dominates in mainstream discourse.
In contrast to the belief in merit, the current proposal centers around structural features of inequality in educational contexts. More specifically, our objective is to contribute to educational research by analyzing processes of inclusion and exclusion of Black people in Dutch schooling in the period 1968-2017. Based on previously finalized research regarding contemporary and historic depictions of Black people in history textbooks (Sijpenhof, 2018; 2018a), we will discuss and visually interrogate how these findings relate to inclusion (e.g. through role models) and exclusion (e.g. through underrepresentation and stereotypes). Also, we will discuss how the everyday experiences of teachers and students correspond, by analyzing how teachers have taught the curriculum and how students have interpreted the information taught. This is important as we cannot assume that the content of textbooks is actually taught by teachers and accepted by students (Crawford, 2003). Also, we will analyze the racial ideologies shared by teachers. Lastly, we will discuss the influence that these forms of inclusion and exclusion have had on the formation of students’ self-perceived racial identities in Dutch schooling.
Thus, we question: ‘To what extent does in- and exclusion of Black people occur in Dutch secondary education in the period 1968-2017 (through depictions of Black people in secondary school history textbooks and through teachers’ racial attitudes) and how does this influence students’ racial identity?’
To answer these questions, we will use a critical and interdisciplinary approach: different perspectives from the domains of critical race theory, discourse analysis, intersectionality, and racial identity are integrated. By looking through theoretical lenses of CRT (e.g. Delgado & Stefancic, 2012; Taylor, Gillborn, & Ladson-Billings, 2016), and using its methodology of counter-narrative as a tool, we start with the assumption that race is a social construct and that racism is prevalent and deeply-rooted in Dutch society (hence in Dutch education). To be clear, this starting point does not match mainstream discourse, which often argues that the Netherlands is a country free of racism, notwithstanding a few hateful and extreme individuals (Wekker, 2016).
Based on previous textbook analysis of, in total, 1064 images (including captions) and 1518 text fragments, from a textbook sample containing 200 Dutch secondary school history textbooks (1968-2017) for students’ basic training, we will discuss in- and exclusion of Black people. We will further this analysis by conducting 60 semi-structured oral history interviews (30 held with (former) teachers and 30 held with former students), to identify which master-narratives are told and to actively retrieve counter-stories. Interviews held with (former) teachers, focus on experiences with the curriculum, the use of textbooks, the dealings with sensitive topics in the classroom, and teachers’ racial ideologies. Interviews held with former students, center around experiences with the curriculum, in- & exclusion in school, dealings with racism (in combination with sexism and homophobia), and the impact of secondary school education on students’ racial identities. The data is obtained from selections of the two following populations: 1. Dutch secondary school (former) history teachers, who have taught in the period between 1968-2017 (most selected respondents are white), and 2. Secondary school former students, who have studied (basic training) history in the period between 1968-2017 (most selected respondents are Black). To create the sample of respondents, we have used non-probability sampling strategies, namely: purposive sampling, quota sampling, and snowball sampling. The purposive sampling technique is used as it is necessary to select respondents based on specific characteristics, like: gender, age, years of experience, ethnic/ racial background, experience with teaching Black students, and memory. We have also relied on quota sampling techniques as it is necessary to ensure that respondents are represented in a proportionate manner (e.g. 12 respondents for every 10 years studied).
The findings of the textbook analysis (Sijpenhof, 2018) show that the number (in percentages) of ‘racist’ depictions in text and image has increased in the last 50 years. Also, most images of Black people may be categorized as ‘racist’, while the number of ‘anti-racist’ depictions of Black people (especially women and children) is very low. Additionally, we found that authors tend to make use of linguistics and visuals to minimize, justify, distort, whitewash, compartmentalize, and neutralize (Black) history. Thus, we argue that Dutch textbooks may impose notions of literal exclusion, as well as biased representations of Black people as ‘the racialized Other’. Simultaneously, positive depictions of the ‘racialized Other’ are minimized, while representing the ‘Us’ extensively and in a more inclusive manner. Our observations indicate that there is a strong focus on ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ in Dutch history textbooks. We expect that, at least to a large extent, the experiences of teachers and students will match these results. Stereotypical and ‘colonized’ thinking is still vast in Europe (Small, 2018). Also, narratives that promote exclusion through visuals or texts are often hidden. Therefore, we do not assume that most teachers and students will identify covert racist depictions. Especially, when teachers’ or students’ racial identities match the implicit Dutch ‘norm’. We do expect, however, that those who are perceived as ‘the racialized Other’ in Dutch society, can recognize narratives that exclude them, more clearly. Because they may have been taught ‘alternative’ histories in their private realms and also may have developed racial consciousness due to their social positioning. We thus recognize that, besides education, other agents of socialization (like family, peers, media, etc.) play a significant role in the way teachers and students recognize in- and exclusion and affect the way students develop their (racial, cultural, and national) identities.
Crawford, K. (2003). The Role and Purpose of Textbooks. International journal of historical learning, teaching and research, 3(2), 5-10. Davis, K., & Nencel, L. (2011). Border skirmishes and the question of belonging: An authoethnographic account of everyday exclusion in multicultural society. Ethnicities, 11(4), 467-488. Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2012). Critical race theory: An introduction. NYU Press. Essed, P. (1991). Knowledge and resistance: Black women talk about racism in the Netherlands and the USA. Feminism & Psychology, 1(2), 201-219. Essed, P., & Hoving, I. (2014). Innocence, Smug Ignorance, Resentment: An Introduction to Dutch Racism. In Essed & Hoving (Eds.), Dutch Racism (pp. 9-29). Rodopi. Essed, P. (2014). Afterword: A Second Wave of Dutch Resistance Against Racism. Frame Journal of Literary Studies, 27(2), 135-142. Essed, P., & Trienekens, S. (2008). ‘Who wants to feel white?’ Race, Dutch culture and contested identities. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(1), 52-72. Sijpenhof, M. L. (forthcoming, 2018). The Black Child: ‘Racist’ Depictions in Dutch Secondary School History Textbooks (1968-2017). History of Education & Children’s Literature. Sijpenhof, M. L. (forthcoming, 2018a). Image, Text, Discourse, and Action: A Critical Race Examination of History Textbooks, Historia y Memoria de la Educación. Small, S. (2018). 20 Questions and Answers on Black Europe. The Hague: Amrit. Taylor, E., Gillborn, D., & Ladson-Billings, G. (2016). Foundations of critical race theory in education. New York: Routledge. Weiner, M. F. (2015). The Dutchman's Burden: Enslavement, Africa and Immigrants in Dutch Primary School History Textbooks. Sociologias, 17(40), 212-254. Wekker, G. (2016). White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race. Duke University Press.
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