White Innocence

In White Innocence Gloria Wekker (Emeritus Professor of Gender and Ethnicity) 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.

Prof. dr. Gloria Wekker
Prof. dr. Gloria Wekker

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 (Zwarte Piet), 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.


  • Title: White Innocence: Paradoxes of Colonialism and Race
  • Author: Gloria Wekker
  • Publisher: Duke University Press, 2016
  • ISBN: 978-0-8223-6075-9 (paperback), 978-0-8223-6059-9 (cloth)