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Photographs of Colonial Violence

Paulus Bijl (Utrecht University)

“Photographs of Colonial Violence in Dutch Cultural Remembrance”

30 June 2011

Photographs of colonial atrocities committed in the Dutch East Indies have been widely published in the Netherlands. These same images, however, have regularly been framed as forgotten. Through an analysis of the social biography of these photographs, I will argue that the Dutch do not suffer from colonial amnesia, but from what Ann Laura Stoler has called colonial aphasia.


Paulus Bijl studied Dutch and Comparative Literature, and was a visiting student and research scholar at UCLA and Columbia University. His PhD-thesis, which brought together (post)colonial studies, memory studies, and visual culture, was on two photographs of colonial atrocity and their role in Dutch cultural remembrance. He is currently a lecturer in Comparative Literature at Utrecht University.