"Blacks in the Dutch World" examines the interaction between Black history and Dutch history to gain an understanding of the historical development of racial attitudes. Allison Blakely reveals cracks in the self-image and reputation of Dutch society as a haven for those escaping intolerance. Pervasive images of "the Moor" and "the noble savage" in Dutch art and popular culture; "Black Pete," servant to Santa Claus in Dutch Christmas tradition: these and many other cultural artefacts reflect the racial stereotyping of Blacks that existed in the Dutch world through slavery, servitude, and freedom. Blakely weighs the proposition that factors unique to the modern period have contributed to the creation of this racial imagery in Dutch folklore, art, literature, and religion. By viewing evolving images of Blacks against the backdrop of Western expansion, the agricultural, scientific, and industrial revolutions, and the advent of modern secular doctrines, Blakely discovers that humanism and liberalism, hallmarks of Dutch society since medieval times, have been imperfect guardians against race bias. "Blacks in the Dutch World" confirms that the existence of colour prejudice in a predominantly "white" society does not depend on the presence of racial conflict or even a significant "coloured" population. The origins are related to the complex interaction of evolving social, cultural, and economic phenomena.
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ALLISON BLAKELY is Professor of European History and Comparative History at Howard University. He is the author of Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought, winner of an American Book Award.
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