Teachers, textbooks and black identitycolor-blind racism in dutch education (1968-2017)

  1. Schelvis Sijpenhof, María Luce
Supervised by:
  1. Sjaak Braster Director
  2. María del Mar del Pozo Andrés Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Alcalá

Fecha de defensa: 17 February 2020

  1. Alejandro Tiana Ferrer Chair
  2. Kira Mahamud Angulo Secretary
  3. Ian Grosvenor Committee member
  1. Ciencias de la Educación

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 153029 DIALNET lock_openTESEO editor


By using critical race theory as a framework and methodology, this project explores racism in Dutch educational contexts in the years 1968-2017 by analyzing the relationship between (1) depictions of Black history and Black people in history secondary school textbooks (content and visuals), (2) teachers¿ racial ideologies, and (3) the self-perceived racial identities of Black students. The first part of the thesis qualitatively explores racialized narratives in Dutch textbooks through eight representative depictions of Black people, from a sample containing 200 textbooks. Racialization is displayed through two types of visual narrative structures: a) ¿racialization through otherness¿, using one-sided stereotypical identities and racial hierarchy and b) ¿racialization through sameness¿, maintained through color-blind frames, racialized narratives and minimization of race talk. Next, all depictions of Black people identified in Dutch history textbooks selected (1064 images and 1518 text fragments), are quantitatively analyzed. Based on multiple correspondence analysis, four clusters were found and named "anti-racist", "non-racist", "color-blind", and "racially essentialist". The findings show that "color-blind" and "non-racist" depictions are most salient, and that "racially essentialist" and "anti-racist" depictions are less present. However, `racially essentialist¿ depictions in text and image have clearly increased in the period between 1968-2017, while "anti-racist" depictions have remained relatively stable over the years. Furthermore, most images of Black people are categorized as "racially essentialist" and very few are categorized as "anti-racist". The second part of the thesis is based on 63 semi-structured oral history interviews (28 held with (former) teachers and 35 held with former students). Three discourses (similar to the textbook depictions) were identified, which reflect respondents ideologies: color-blind discourse, racially essentialist discourse, and anti-racist discourse. White (former) teachers overwhelmingly express color-blind discourses and use very similar frames to those that researchers have found are utilized in the US. Moreover, as has been shown in American research, former Black students are much more likely to offer anti-racist discourses, but they display color-blind discourses and (in very select cases) racially essentialist discourses to reflect their ideologies as well. Thus, color-blindness as a dominant ideology influences even those who are negatively affected by it. Furthermore, teachers, without realizing it, are constantly constructing their racial realities based on three discourses of whiteness: (1) the normalization of whiteness while racializing the "other", (2) the minimization of historical and contemporary racism and whiteness, and (3) the non-racial explanation of inequities.