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Colonial and Post-Colonial Connections in Dutch Literature

The 2011 Berkeley Conference on Dutch Literature
September 15-17, 2011

Call for Papers

Dutch literature is more than just literature about a tiny piece of land at the estuary of the Rhine. From the Caribbean to South-Africa, from Southeast-Asia to Western Europe, the Dutch language forms a common bond in a literature that was and is deeply marked by intercultural connections. In recent decades, considerable attention has been given to Dutch colonial and postcolonial literature, but the importance of intercultural connections within the Dutch colonial network has been neglected. What were the cultural and literary networks between Batavia, Galle, Nagasaki, and the Cape Colony? How did the slave trade connect authors in Willemstad and Paramaribo with Gorée and Elmina at the African West Coast? How did Jewish communities link Recife in Dutch Brazil to New Amsterdam on the American East Coast? And how did Amsterdam, Leiden or The Hague function as intellectual intermediaries between the Netherlands and the different colonies?

This pluricentric perspective on Dutch literature remains relevant in modern times. After the colonial era ended, the Dutch language continued to produce literature that fostered intellectual bonds between the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and Western Europe. These intercontinental contacts were even intensified and grew in diversity when three centuries after the first Dutchmen ventured out into the wide world, the world came to the Netherlands. Inhabitants of the former colonies first, followed by immigrants and refugees, transformed the Dutch literary landscape to the point that an international perspective on Dutch literature has become a necessity.

The 2011 Berkeley Conference in Dutch Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, intends to bring together a selection of literary scholars and cultural historians from all over the world to debate Dutch literature within the framework of intercultural connections in Dutch colonial and post-colonial studies. Please send a ca. 500 word abstract for a 20 minute paper to Jeroen Dewulf at by February 1, 2011. The conference will take place on the UC Berkeley campus and the proceedings will be subsequently published. Details about the conference will be presented shortly on the UC Berkeley Dutch Studies website,

Keynote speaker: Adriaan van Dis

Organizing Committee:
Jeroen Dewulf (University of California, Berkeley)
Michiel van Kempen (Amsterdam University)
Olf Praamstra (Leiden University)
Siegfried Huigen (Stellenbosch University)

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