8661
9 minutes read

Why are historians suddenly looking at Sweden’s colonial past?

It is, to a surprisingly large extent, a story that’s been going on since the Second World War. Sweden–it is said–is different from the rest of Europe. After all, “The world’s conscience” (as newspapers in the West would usually describe Sweden in shorthand) had never been properly colonialist. As historian Gunlög Fur explains: “Colonialism was defined as control over other territories, and Sweden, it could claim, was a marginal player at most. It was made believable internationally that Sweden was not part of any mechanisms of oppression, and it could avoid being seen as a colonial power. Instead, Sweden saw itself as the moral equivalent of a great power, building up its sympathy with the marginalised and oppressed.”

10201
7 minutes read

File under: Dutch Liberalism

In the Netherlands, many people convince themselves that racism is something that exists elsewhere–in South Africa, for example, or in the United States. For this is a ‘tolerant,’ liberal nation. To maintain the facade, often blatant acts of racism are downplayed, rationalized or swept away. As an exercise, see some of the comments on our Facebook page whenever we post something about racism in the Netherlands.

4505
5 minutes read

Aidan Hartley’s Africa

In Aidan Hartley’s Africa, the progress of the continent is measured by its hospitability to white people and animals. Hartley was a war correspondent turned Wild Life columnist for The (British) Spectator magazine. A white Kenyan, he was born in 1965 and raised in East Africa for a time before moving to England for about a decade. He returned to Kenya as a Reuters war journalist, apparently hoping that by finding “a war that I could call my own,” he would find a place he belonged.

5431
5 minutes read

What are the “unintended consequences of Dutch colonialism”?

In their documentary installation piece “Empire: The unintended consequences of colonialism,” filmmaker team Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill seek out the residue of centuries of Dutch imperialist projects, highlighting what they have referred to as the “humanity” in colonization.

7456
5 minutes read

Eating Nando’s in Gaborone

I spent part of last month at the biennial gathering of historians organised by the Southern African Historical Society. The conference at the University of Botswana was fantastic. Gaborone was, well, less so.*…..

2344
3 minutes read

Africa is a Board Game

While shopping for Christmas presents this past December in a local gaming store, this little number caught my eye. Ticket to Ride: The Heart of Africa is a variation of…..

2512
13 minutes read

The Adventures of Tintin in a Belgian Court

Jogchum Vrielink, in this guest post, writes about the attempt by a Congolese student to obtain a ban on the comic book ‘Tintin in the Congo.’ A Brussels court rejected their claims. Despite this outcome, the reasoning of the court jeopardizes free speech, argues Vrielink, a postdoctoral researcher on discrimination law at Belgium’s University of Leuven. As regards the applicants: ‘offensive as the comic may be, their recourse to the law is both misdirected and counterproductive.’

11 minutes read

The geo-branding war

Geo-branding is a serious thing. It is particularly serious when people from other geographic areas decide to brand your geographical area and the people in it, the way they see…..

4 minutes read

Reverse Colonization

NPR’s European correspondent Sylvia Poggioli filed this piece on Friday. Titled “Portuguese Seeking Opportunities in Former Colonies” it takes a breezy look at how the economic crisis in Portugal has sent…..