Fear of Flooding: Convivial Racism in the Netherlands

Helen Hintjens, Des Gasper

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterProfessional


This chapter explores Dutch ‘convivial racism’, and connects this kind of response to immigration to a latent ‘fear of flooding’ and Dutch hydropolitics. The chapter explores the idea that white Dutch citizens’ everyday forms of racism are unconsciously connected with a pervasive, but unacknowledged, ‘fear of flooding’, from sea and river events. Dutch racism is often described as ‘banal’ and has been normalised in everyday life in the past. We use the term ‘convivial’ to convey the resilience of an essentialised sense of Dutchness in spite of the realities of decolonisation and mass immigration. We consider debates over the December ‘Black Peter’ (Zwarte Piet) ritual, analyse political speeches of Geert Wilders, and show how persistently white innocence has been insisted on in public political debates. Wilders’ explicit anti-Islamic racism is traced to colonial imaginaries and unresolved legacies of Empire in Dutch society. His more explicitly racist and anti-Islamic political discourses have made it difficult for political elites to deny that racism exists in Dutch society, and in 2020, the Prime Minster for the first time publicly recognised that institutional racism exists in the country. His admission closely followed on a major tax fraud operation directed at non-Dutch and dual nationality residents.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Politics of Art, Death and Refuge
Subtitle of host publicationThe Turning Tide
EditorsHelen Hintjens
Place of PublicationCham
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-09891-8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

This research was originally started as research into Dutch racism, funded by a small grant from SANPAD


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