Egbert Alejandro Martina
Writer, editor of Processed Life

Patricia Schor
Utrecht University, The Netherlands
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White Order: Racialization of Public Space in the Netherlands
Dedalus 19 (2015), pp. 161-188. Download PDF

In this essay we argue that urban planning and spatial ordering enact violence upon racialized populations in the Netherlands. We highlight the entanglement between security, coercion and care in Dutch contemporary public discourse and policy on structuring and regulating urban space. We posit that the ways in which Black people are addressed in public discourse and spatial policy contribute greatly to the construction of a nationalist, gendered, sexualized, socio-spatial framework of proper White Native Dutchness. Focusing on policy and legal instruments deployed in the city of Rotterdam, we sketch how the government rationalizes a politics of containment. We use the colonial archive to trace the genealogy of practices of incarceration of Black bodies in the metropolitan space. We then expound on colonial continuities in the workings of contemporary ‘White Order.’ We point to the role that architecture and urban planning play in the control of populations. Finally, we focus on how the language of care enables the State to stretch its realm of intervention into the private lives of Black populations. We stress the intersection between biopolitics and political economy, whereby ‘quality of life’ is already coded as white. Our aim is to reveal the sustained targeting of Black bodies, from Dutch colonial times until today, and recast spatial design and regulation as normalized and disavowed violence.