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White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
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White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  279 ratings  ·  33 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 226 pages
Published April 29th 2016 by Duke University Press Books
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Sander Philipse
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Gloria Wekker gives an outstanding jumping-off point to understand the Dutch reaction toward 'accusations' of racism, the 'cultural archive' from which we draw, and the fragility, defensiveness and hostility inherent in Dutch Whiteness. As a queer theorist she focuses heavily on the sexual undertones and gendered nature of many of the problems of White Dutch Innocence. Given the reactions this book and her performances have engendered, this book may prompt some re-examination and public ...more
Sara Salem
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Must read!
Mandatory for every Dutch citizen.
Jeroen Kraan
Interesting and insightful. Wekker makes many important observations about Dutch society. She is absolutely right that there is still plenty of racism left in The Netherlands, and provides convincing examples of it. The final chapter, on Black Pete, is the strongest of the book and makes this point very well. I find White Innocence problematic in other parts.

To get this out of the way: I'm a white dude criticising a book on white privilege and racism. You may stop reading here if you feel so
Whitlaw Tanyanyiwa Mugwiji
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An insightful read on racism in the Netherlands. The book confirms my own personal experiences with racism in the Netherlands. And looking at their cultural archive, the book explains where the Dutch attitude of "white innocence" comes from. Whiteness is not acknowledged as a race but taken as the norm, lacking in characteristics and devoid of meaning.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hoewel Witte onschuld iets minder toegankelijk geschreven is dan Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race heb ik dit boek van begin tot eind met mijn volle aandacht gelezen. Qua thematiek is dit academisch geschreven boek minstens net zo interessant als het boek van Reni Eddo-Lodge - niet in de laatste plaats omdat Witte Onschuld zich richt op structureel racisme en koloniaal denken in Nederland. Dichtbij huis dus. Professor Gloria Wekker beschrijft oa. hoe de media onze beeldvorming ...more
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
sometimes I wished Wekker had used a little less space to outline her plans for each chapter and a little more to push her arguments a bit further, but otherwise, essential reading.
Bram Joziasse
Dec 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ik heb heel lang getwijfeld of ik deze review wel durfde te plaatsen. 1 ster is weinig én het ligt gevoelig om in deze context dit boek slecht te beoordelen, zeker als de witte man die ik ben.
Ben ik aan het mansplainen of heb ik zelf last van witte onschuld? Waarschijnlijk wel als je het aan Gloria Wekker vraagt.

Ik heb mijn best gedaan om het boek met een welwillende bril te lezen. Gloria haalt veel voorbeelden van alledaags racisme in Nederland aan en legt de vinger op de zere plek. De
Renée Hunter
Truly valuable and insightful read, and I enjoyed her sarcastic frustration at points. However, it sometimes felt like the case studies or 'vignettes' were a little haphazard. Also, this book will speak very well to people that already agree with Gloria (as I did), but will not expose Dutch culture and identity in a way that will convince *others* of the hypocrisy and paradoxes that she discusses. It would have been a lot more valuable if it would actually be able to convince others as well.
Rocher Koendjbiharie
A briliant book on racism in the Netherlands. Through different perspectives and cases, Wekker manages to shed light on the so-called tolerance in the Netherlands, which (spoiler alert) does not exist.

The only remark I have, is that the book is academically written. Wekker stated that this was her goal, but it makes it difficult for people who do not have had access to academic or higher education to read this book easily.

Nonetheless this book is a must read!
Frank Van De Pieterman
One sided and often just not true. Some interesting lines of thought but in general a divisive book that will not help any issues solve at all.
Jun 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Super interesting and cool, but I kept hoping that Wekker would dig deeper, really deconstruct what she was analysing, but as is often the case with case studies, it remained incidental. Which of course doesn't do away with the fact that this book is badass, spot-on and extremely necessary. I guess the purpose of this book was to bring the topic to the surface, for it is very new for a lot of people, but I was left wanting at times. Which is okay, what I am probably looking for is way to much ...more
Christopher Sutch
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of scholarly work that the academy needs more of: a very contextualized, intersectional examination of how the Dutch experience with imperialism still affects racial, gender, and sexual viewpoints in contemporary Dutch society. Of course, this means much more to people living in the Netherlands than to a reader in the US...but there are many parallels in history and scholarship that cast highlights onto the current American context as well as the Dutch. As the most obvious ...more
Maikel Samsom
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wekker beschrijft een reeks paradoxen in de manier waarop het Nederlandse zelfbeeld gekarakteriseerd wordt. Voor een witte (niet: blanke) Nederlander zijn veel van de paradoxen herkenbaar: geen identificatie met migranten, de passie versus ontkenning die ras oproept en de afwezigheid van het Nederlands imperialisme, zeker in verhouding met de grootschalige aandacht voor de Tweede Wereldoorlog in het curriculum. Het is goed dat deze paradoxen eens uitgediept worden zonder meteen te spreken over ...more
Melina Ghasseminejad
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Dit is simpelweg een must-read voor alle Nederlanders. Professor Wekker legt bepaalde dingen bloot die voor sommigen (lees: witte Nederlanders) als ongemakkelijk en pijnlijk gezien kunnen worden. Daarnaast, wat voor mij heel belangrijk is, geeft dit boek ons een woordenschat

Er zijn twee quotes die me bij zullen blijven en die ik graag wil delen,

[Witte onschuld] vat een dominante manier samen waarop Nederlanders over zichzelf denken: als een kleine maar rechtvaardige, ethische natie;
Lisa Nussy
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wekker is bold and bright to describe what many don't dare, or that has been controversial for the most time and still is: racism in the Netherlands. This is an amazing book to understand the relation between the colonial past and the present society in the Netherlands. It is an eye opener and even though it is based on ethnographic research and autobiography, it is easily understandable. Very welcome and very necessary in everyone's bookshelf, also to understand current racism in Europe. ...more
Francine Maessen
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting, but also a bit disturbing book. Wekker gives a good analysis of the Dutch ideas about racism, but the pessimistic thing is that I didn't read about a solution. Maybe that's not her job as an anthropologist, on the other hand I would be very curious about her ideas on how to solve this. Of course she shows how the solution to racism lies in intersectional policies, but the solution to white innocence is hard to find. How do you change such a rigid structure?
Hans Morsink
Oct 20, 2018 rated it did not like it
A load of incoherent drivel supported by anecdotal evidence.
I am sure there is some racism, but if you would swap black and white in this book I am pretty sure we would all call this book blatant racism.
Also, it won’t convince anyone not agreeing with Wekker; she truly is preaching to the choir and being divisive while doing that

As someone once said, you first need races before you get racism. And Wekker is a racist.
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To me, this is the most important work available to understand the current context when it comes to the legacy of colonialism and how racism is interwoven within Dutch culture and the Netherlands. It examines recent events and examples, I wish this was a must-read in every 'maatschappijleer' course.
Daan Besamusca
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Spot on in many ways. Must-read book for Dutch people sufficiently open-minded to learn about the particularities of racism in the Netherlands, including people’s resistance and attitude to talk about race in general. Many observations are very recognisable from a UK/US perspective as well, making it an interesting read on post colonial race relations for non-Dutch natives as well.
Belangrijk boek met eye openers in de vele voorbeelden waarin (onbedoeld) racisme pijnlijk zichtbaar en voelbaar worden.
De leesbaarheid van het boek wordt gehinderd door de vele verwizingen naar onderzoekingen en de voorgestelde verdieping verderop in het boek.
Lucinda Ewijk
Heel interessant boek, maar bijzonder academisch geschreven - en dat is heel erg jammer, want Wekker heeft een belangrijk verhaal te vertellen waar iedereen meer over zou moeten lezen. Een korte, eenvoudiger verwoorde versie van dit verhaal zou van grote meerwaarde zijn.
Petra Hallberg
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik zal deze nog eens lezen over een paar maanden en het kan zijn dat mijn waardering dan nog hoger komt dan een 4. Veel van wat besproken en onderzocht wordt in het boek is mij bekend en legt de vinger op de zere plek voor velen.
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Raises many points to think about (more) but also has some issues. Apart from content, I had some issues with the language and the position of the author through language (use of 'we' in different contexts). Curious to find out how the book is seen outside of the Netherlands.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ik heb me zelden zo naïef gevoeld na het lezen van een boek. Vooral de vele voorbeelden zijn schokkend herkenbaar
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Belangrijk boek
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: university
Eye-opening book about the White Innocence in the Netherlands when it comes to racism and our colonial past. As a Dutch white Anthropology student who thought to know quite a lot about this subject, I learned that I did not even know half of it. I learned how discrimination (especially race/ethnicity but also gender, class and sexual orientation and the intersection between these categories) might not always be visible at the surface but operates in Dutch policies and the Dutch way of thinking ...more
Sander Philipse
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deze letterlijke vertaling van het origineel onderscheidt zich door de toevoeging van een hoofdstuk over de Nederlandse ontvangst van White Innocence: een beschouwing op de manier waarop witte onschuld constant en op verschillende manieren gedemonstreerd werd in de Nederlandstalige media.
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Though it could have dug a little deeper, this is an incredibly important and unprecedented book which I think every Dutch person, and anyone else interested in race in European culture, must read. I was pretty much blown away.
Esme Kemp
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
she’s got it dead on. Needs to be required reading for all Dutch people. Wekker rules. Colonialism sux and Dutch people racist. End.
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“Questioning this most dearly held core of the Dutch sense of self not only is felt as a direct attack, it also means that the nonbeliever, the antiracist killjoy, is putting himself or herself above “us,” which in itself again runs deeply counter to another strand in the Dutch sense of self: “gelijke monnikken, gelijke kappen” (literally, equal monks, equal cowls), which invokes the deep egalitarian strand in Dutch self-representation. Critical self-reflection, moreover and ironically, is a scarce commodity in a culture that delights in imagining itself as “nothing,” “just normal” (Ramdas 1998), without specific characteristics, much less infused with deep racializations. The point of not knowing, racial ignorance, and innocence has long passed.” 1 likes
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