27 april 2022: Talking About Empire

Education and Representation of Colonialism in the the Netherlands, Flanders and the UK


In Europe today, we are increasingly recognising that the past is not simply behind us, but equally around us and part of us: our major cities are built on colonial profits; our societies are culturally and ethnically diverse. And yet, colonial history and how to ‘deal with’ the legacy of empire is one of the most explosive and emotional topics around.

The Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom each have their own colonial heritage. What they share is the increasing call to break the silence about what exactly took place and to investigate how the nations’ colonial legacy impact on today’s societies, on the way we talk about our heritage, on what we teach our children.

How should we talk about Empire? Have we come to terms with our colonial history? How do we pass on this history to the next generation, in a way that is both honest and inclusive? How do we incorporate our colonial heritage into the way we talk about our regional or national identity today? Does our attitude towards Empire impact on diversity policies and integration strategies?

In our panel discussion, experts from the UK, Flanders and the Netherlands will explore how and what young people in their countries / regions learn about Empire, and how the colonial legacy is presented in public life through, for example, exhibitions, festivals, and commemorations. What can we learn from the best practices of the other?

Our panel will include:

  • Barbara Esseboom (NL) – Chair 30 June – 1 July Committee, Arnhem
  • Lieven Miguel Kandolo (BE) – Co-Chair Hand in Hand Against Racism, Deputy Coordinator Outreach Work, JES Brussels, and co-author of Yaya na Leki (2020)
  • Adam Duckworth (UK) – Engagement Producer for Young People, National Museums Liverpool

We will also hear from students of the University of Sheffield, who have translated the graphic novel Quaco: Life in Slavery by Ineke Mok and Eric Heuvel. Quaco and the website www.quaco.info are an example of a colonial awareness project in the Netherlands aimed at KS3 students.

The discussion will be moderated by Dr Henriëtte Louwerse, Director of Studies and Senior Lecturer in Dutch at the University of Sheffield.

The event will be recorded and will be available to view free of charge after the event for those not able to join us in person.

Our thanks to the Nederlandse Taalunie, the University of Sheffield’s Centre for Dutch and Flemish Studies, the UCL Centre for Low Countries Studies and the low countries website for their collaboration and generous sponsorship of this event.

Doors open:    18:30

Event begins:  19:00

Event ends:     21:00