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The Postcolonial Low Countries: exaggerated claim

door Jeroen Dewulf

As the editors Elleke Boehmer and Sarah De Mul of The Postcolonial Low Countries rightly argue, little attention has traditionally been paid to Dutchspeaking areas in global analysis of the cultural legacy of Europe’s colonial policies. In this respect, the publication of a new volume that attempts to reach a broad range of scholars interested in the legacy of Dutch and Belgian colonial policies in the contemporary Low Countries and their former overseas possessions in Africa, Asia, and the Americas should be welcomed.

Several of the articles presented in this collected volume meet high academic standards. This is the case, for instance, with Henriette Louwerse’s chapter on the Dutch–Moroccan author Hafid Bouazza, Ieme van der Poel’s comparative study of Moroccan diasporic writing in Catalan and in Dutch, and Liesbeth Minnaard’s article on the perception of Amsterdam in a short story by the Turkish–German author Emine Sevgi Özdamar. As these references indicate, however, the editors’ choice for the term “postcolonial” in the volume’s title is misleading. Although the book also includes a handful of contributions in the field of postcolonial studies, such as Pamela Pattynama’s excellent study on “reflective nostalgia” among repatriates from the former Dutch East Indies (today’s Indonesia), the focus is primarily on the cultural and social effects on contemporary Dutch and Flemish society of the wave of immigrants from Morocco and Turkey who came to the Low Countries as “guest workers” in the 1960s and 1970s. It is remarkable that a volume which the editors ambitiously present to readers on its cover as “the first book to bring together critical and comparative approaches to the emergent field of neerlandophone postcolonial studies” does not include a single contribution on the largest truly postcolonial minority group in Dutch society: Dutch–Caribbean people with roots in Suriname and the Antilles. This surprising omission makes the exaggerated claims about the editors’ innovative approach sound empty.

Lees hier verder de volledige recensie van dit boek in Comparative Literature Studies:

The Postcolonial Low Countries: Literature, Colonialism, and Multiculturalism. Edited by Elleke Boehmer and Sarah De Mul. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2012. 266 pp. Cloth $90.00.

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