The global decolonization movements of the mid-twentieth century presented a radical opportunity to reformulate political ties and notions of belonging, challenging the racial and gendered hierarchies upon which colonial rule rested.  In the Caribbean colonies of the Netherlands, activists waged the struggle for independence in the bedroom.  Believing sexual emancipation to be “the condition sine qua non for the resolution of seriously frustrating social problems,” activists insisted that sexual pleasure could explode the ongoing effects of colonialism, slavery, and the regimes of sexual violence that maintained both.  This talk explores the intertwined arguments for sexual liberation, decolonization, and racial justice among Dutch Antillean activists in the 1960s-1980s and examines the Atlantic currents that informed Antillean engagement with these topics.  Reading Antillean arguments alongside postcolonial, Black and Caribbean feminist theory, this talk reconsiders the substance and geography of the sexual revolution.  While many historians regard the sexual revolution as a distinctly European achievement born of the continent’s postwar experience, Schields views the mid-twentieth century challenge to sexual mores as an Atlantic phenomenon rooted in creative critiques of colonial hegemony and anti-blackness.

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766