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Re/Presenting Europe: Healing the Afterlives of Colonialism

How can we get better insights in the many “othered” populations that have shaped Europe for centuries? How to align Europe’s proclaimed identity with everyday reality? And how can Europe overcome its colonial past to become a truly diverse and inclusive continent? We start by reflecting upon ourselves.

Misrepresentations in Europe
Dutch representations of Europe have not acknowledged the long presence of the super-diverse groups of non-white “others”. This lack of knowledge is intensified by ethno-racial stereotyping which has led to exclusion and social tension. This NWA-funded project, named ‘ Re/Presenting Europe: Popular Representations of Diversity and Belonging’, analyses misrepresentations in Dutch sports, urban arts, and education. It examines how to heal resulting social divides. It uncovers and disseminates information about how Europe’s “others” have contributed to its culture and history and integrates it into educational practices. It provides insight in Dutch and European complex identities and co-creates meaningful representations with communities to increase belonging and foster social resilience for a super-diverse European future. 

Inclusivity through academia-community collaborations
Education and research from postcolonial and globalising perspectives play a central role in this project. Through a grassroots approach we aim to make knowledge within academic and cultural institutions more inclusive. The strength of the consortium is the groundbreaking level of cooperation between academic institutions and community-based organisations that represent and reflect the diversity of European society. The many consortium members (see below) will collaboratively investigate links between the Dutch identity and Europe, including the transatlantic and postcolonial connection.

Healing from colonial pasts together
The Athena Institute’s main task is to gather and critically analyse processes of knowledge integration between academic and non-academic knowledge-holders. Using a reflexive monitoring and action approach, we aim to contribute to the transformation of a more inclusive Europe.

Athena aims to identify post/de/colonial grass roots organisations and communities that have been affected by colonial history. We study how their positions are negotiated through embodied knowledge and explore various healing interventions addressing the afterlives of the affected communities. In addition, we investigate how we can measure the social impact of these interventions.

We examine how to create places for coming together, in which we can explore how we can heal from ‘being implicated’ in colonial pasts, across drastically different positionalities. We seek to understand how healing can take place even across affects that are understood as negative, such as anger, shame or guilt.

The Athena Institute is exploring this in various case studies:

  • Co-existence of traditional medicine/healing next to Western/biomedical medicine/healing n the Dutch Caribbean’
  • Addressing ‘silencing’ (Indisch Zwijgen)’ among diverse Indonesian communities in the Netherlands
  • Healing among victims of the social welfare scandal (toeslagenaffaire) in the Netherlands

By facilitating workshops in close collaboration with KITLV, Keti Koti Tafel, and NMVW, we create room to reflect on the past and share experiences and perspectives. Knowledge gained during these workshops will be used to integrate in- and stimulate- transformational change.

Project details

  • Connect & follow us

  • Consortium

    Knowledge institutes:

    • Utrecht University (project lead)
    • Athena Institute (VU Amsterdam)
    • Erasmus University Rotterdam
    • Radboud University Nijmegen
    • Leiden University
    • University of Amsterdam
    • Hanzehogeschool Groningen
    • Hogeschool Utrecht
    • Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV)
    • Reinwardt Academy
    • National Knowledge Institute for Culture Education and Amateur Art (LKCA)
    • Mulier Institute
    • National Museum of World Cultures (NMNV)
    • The Participation Federation
    • Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

    Social community-based organisations:

    • Cultuur Oost
    • House of Urban Arts
    • Stichting de Sportwereld
    • Feyenoord
    • Erfgoed Brabant
    • Keti Koti Tafel
    • Future Me
    • Stichting Amsterdam Hip Hop Academy
    • Stichting Fundashon Bon Intenshun
    • Literatuurmuseum
    • Zwart Archief
    • Stichting Ocan
    • Noordstaat
    • De Rijdende Popschool
    • Groninger Museum
    • Stichting Nowhere
    • FunX
  • Funding

    This project has received funding from NWA-ORC (NWO).