Blackface burlesques. Racialized subjection in popular performance culture of the Low Countries, 1770-1840

Begin - Einde 
2021 - 2024 (lopend)
Vakgroep Letterkunde
Andere instituten 
Dutch and Caribbean Literature - University of Amsterdam
Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts - University of Antwerp



Researchers generally situate the origins of Belgian-Dutch blackface as a way to ridicule Afro-diasporic people in the second half of the nineteenth century, when Anglo-American minstrel troupes arrived in the Low Countries. Wearing black make-up had been a common theatrical practice for hundreds of years, scholarship asserts, but it was not used to stereotype nonwhite people until the mid-nineteenth century. “Blackface Burlesques” will show that neither Belgian-Dutch popular performance culture nor the history of racism waited for these minstrels to enter the stage. The main goal of this project is to trace the modes, scenarios, tropes, and techniques used to design “blackness” on the comic stage and explore the different functions of these modes of representation. By unearthing, exploring, and deconstructing a hitherto unstudied corpus of blackface entertainment that underpins modern racism and its stereotypes, "Blackface Burlesques" will contribute not only to debates on European varieties and roots of Anglo-American minstrelsy, but also to discussions of imperial imagination, Black Pete, and decolonization in the Low Countries of today.



Postdoctorale medewerker(s)

Externe medewerkers

Nele Wynants


Michiel van Kempen

University of Amsterdam