Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Decolonizing Europe: History, Ideas and Praxis (in collaboration with VU University in Amsterdam)

Course level Advanced Bachelor/Master/PhD
Block 1 (6 to 17 July)
Co-ordinating lecturers Prof. Susan Legêne and Prof. Anthony Bogues
Other lecturers Dr Dienke Hondius, Dr Wayne Modest and guests
Form(s) of tuition Interactive seminar, lectures, fieldwork
Form(s) of assessment Presentation, short paper
ECTS  3 credits
Contact hours 45
Tuition fee €1100


Who should join this course?

Primarily students of Humanities and Social Sciences, although interested participants from other backgrounds are also welcome.

Course content

Take a fresh approach to current debates surrounding notions of citizenship and belonging within postcolonial, post-Cold War Europe. 

This course focuses on the works of Caribbean and African diasporic thinkers: scholars, writers and artists who have engaged critically with European intellectual traditions, formulating distinctive positions that constitute an alternative genealogy for questions of citizenship and belonging in Europe. By honing in on their works, you gain a deeper understanding of the global interactions at key historical moments that shaped contemporary Europe.

Active participation is an important aspect of this course. In both plenary and workshop sessions, you engage in conversations on Europe’s colonial legacies, focusing specifically on archives and museums but also addressing critical debates in the history of thought, the story of the slave trade, enslavement and colonialism, post-colonial and labour migration, urban identities, race and “post-racialism”, diaspora, citizenship and belonging.

Decolonizing Europe is offered jointly by the Global History, Heritage and Memory programme at VU University Amsterdam and the Center for Slavery and Justice at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Its co-organizer is the Research Center for Material Culture of the Dutch National Museum of World Cultures.



Visits to the Tropenmuseum (Dutch National Museum of World Cultures) in Amsterdam, Museum Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden and Black Heritage Amsterdam Tours, as well as fieldwork trips.

Learning objectives

  • You understand the changing European polity and its links to European colonial, postcolonial and migration histories, including the histories of slavery.
  • You understand Amsterdam’s role as a major European urban centre, both historically and in the present, including issues of citizenship and belonging here.
  • You are familiar with radical African/Caribbean diasporic thought as part of broader anticolonial and postcolonial critique, and how this thought has been important to refiguring notions of citizenship and belonging in Europe.
  • You are familiar with the ideas of Dutch Caribbean intellectuals in relation to broader Black and Caribbean radical intellectual thought.
  • You are familiar with the works of Dutch artists and other creative thinkers whose work addresses contemporary Europe.
  • You are familiar with theoretical concepts about reframing the archive, both within the city of Amsterdam and more generally.

Course readings

Key papers and other resources will be provided at the start of the course.


Learn more at the Study Abroad in Amsterdam website.