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Rose Mary Allen: Oral History and Postcolonial Feminism

Workshop Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis

The workshop and lecture by Dr. Rose Mary Allen will focus on the specific challenges and potentials of oral history-based research in relation to the study of the lived experiences of subjects and groups who have faced discrimination, silencing, and systemic injustices. Based on her longstanding research experience of documenting the lives of women in the Dutch Caribbean islands and their experiences, memories and testimonies of slavery and colonialism, Dr. Allen will speak about the significance of oral history from a postcolonial feminist perspective.



How can oral history access unspeakable, painful memories and experiences, where language fails? She will highlight the importance of artistic and cultural articulations (music, poetry, dance, performance, ritual) as complementary to spoken narratives. The workshop will introduce the methodological premises and tools of oral history in relation to researching the lives of marginalized subjects. Apart from discussing data collection, analysis techniques, listening and interviewing skills, the workshop will address questions of ethics and sensitivity to gender, race, sexuality and class.

Rose Mary Allen


Invited guest speaker
Dr. Rose Mary Allen is a cultural anthropologist and is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Curaçao dr. Moises da Costa Gomez. She was awarded a knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Netherlands for her exceptional contribution to society and a Cola Debrot award as well as the Boeli van Leeuwenprijs for her valuable contribution to and achievement in the sciences. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Curaç ao, the Police Academy, the Institute for Education in Nursing, the University of West Indies at St. Augustine, and the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras. In 2015-16 she assisted the Ministry of Culture in preparing a new cultural policy. She has been involved in founding a new Cultural Studies undergraduate programme at the University of Curaçao. She studied Sociology and Cultural and Social Anthropology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen and completed her doctoral study on ‘Di Ki Manera? [In what ways]: a Social History of Afro-Curaçaoans, 1863-1917’ at the University of Utrecht (2007). Since 2007 Allen has served as a member of the Communities of Practice,’ (SEDA), a centre for women’s development. From 2009-2012, she was a Research fellow at the Amsterdam School for Social science Research (ASSR), at the University of Amsterdam in a research project on “Citizenship, national canons and the issue of cultural diversity: The Netherlands in international perspective”. Here she focused on “Culturalization of citizenship: The Netherlands and Curaçao in comparative perspective.”


Foto © Cliff San A Jong

The workshop and lecture serve as a preliminary step in preparation for the recently granted NWO project “Cultural Practices of Citizenship under Conditions of Fragmented Sovereignty: Gendered and Sexual Citizenship in the Dutch Caribbean” in co-operation with the University of Curaçao. The five-year project (beginning May 2017) will be tied to ongoing initiatives in the UvA such as the research group Dutch Postcolonial Studies, involving scholars from different Humanities departments. One of the key capacity development activities is the UvA contribution to the curricular development of a BA programme in Cultural Studies at the University of Curaçao. In the spirit of learning from the Global South, the proposed workshop will contribute towards expanding the curricular offerings at the UvA pertaining to the Dutch Caribbean. The workshop will be organized in collaboration with Atria Institute for Gender Equality in Amsterdam to ensure the participation of a wider audience and involve specialists in women’s oral history in the Dutch context to become aware of developments in the field in the Caribbean.

Mon 27 March (16-18hrs.): Public Lecture and Discussion
Tue-Wed 28-29 March (14-17hrs.): Workshop

Atria – Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History
Vijzelstraat 20, 1017 HK Amsterdam



Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis

NICA is the Dutch national research school dedicated to the academic study of contemporary culture from an interdisciplinary, theoretical, and critical perspective. The school offers graduate courses for research master and PhD students, and serves as a professional network for affiliated scholars. Presently based at the University of Amsterdam, the school welcomes the participation of scholars and students of all Dutch universities.

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