Home Institution

Brandeis University

Publication Date

Spring 2022

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


This autoethnographic study analyzes the presentation of women in haunted history in order to dissect the construction of the Dutch national identity. Through a personal narrative experience, the art, museums, tourist enterprises, and physical locations that constitute the city of Amsterdam are put in conversation with one another in order to draw out the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in the Dutch narratives of progress. Firstly, the Spin Huis and the ghost story connected to it are juxtaposed to the City of Amsterdam’s narrative in order to draw out themes of sexual exceptionalism at the expense of foreign bodies. Next, the Amsterdam Dungeon is situated in relation to dark tourism, dark leisure, and the Red Light District to demonstrate the inconsistency in the Dutch identity of “tolerance.” Lastly, the museum of the Heksenwaag, or Witch Weigh House, is used to analyze the Netherlands’ secular exceptionalism and spiritual privileging. These investigations inform my argument that the Netherlands dissociates itself from its haunted history, which is often incongruous with its self-conceptualization as a progressive country, in order to construct and maintain its tolerant, secular, and sexually liberated identity; in doing so, it illuminates the hypocrisies present in the Netherlands' dismissal of sex work and anti-religious xenophobia.


Dutch Studies | European History | Gender and Sexuality | Museum Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Studies


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