“No more blackface!” How can we get people to change their minds about Zwarte Piet?

The Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis just published my article (written with Renata Rocha) called “‘No more blackface!’ How can we get people to change their minds about Zwarte Piet?” The full article freely available online, and the abstract is below.

When Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands in December, he is accompanied by Zwarte Pieten made up in blackface, with afro wigs and bright red lips. Zwarte Piet, translated as “Black Pete,” has created growing controversy as a hurtful, racist caricature. Increasing voices demand change, but most of the population is opposed to altering the tradition. One way forward is to examine attitude change, and gain insight into how we can facilitate this process. This paper introduces the topic and reviews recent academic work on the controversy. Then, using autoethnographic vignettes (Humphreys, 2005), we explore our experiences with the tradition, weaving our stories together in relation to personal history, awareness, and attitude change. We provide an international perspective, as Renata is a Dutch/Cape Verdean woman born and raised in the Netherlands, and Janelle is a white woman, born and raised in Minnesota, who has lived in the Netherlands for 16 years. This approach allowed us to write together from an insider/outsider perspective (Zempi & Awan, 2017). Our stories depict attitude change from distinctive starting points, and by sharing them we hope to shed light on how attitude change can occur in relation to Zwarte Piet and broader social injustice issues.


The Complexity of Online Dating

I talk about my research on the latest Realities podcast, hosted by Mark Fonseca Rendeiro. The show is called The Complexity of Online Dating, and here’s a summary written by Mark:

Impression management; your image on social media; online dating – everywhere you go in your internet life, you’re projecting an image of yourself. Today at the kitchen table, we’re speaking with researcher, writer and communications consultant Janelle Ward about what is going on when it comes to these online selves we’ve created and what impact this has on how our society functions.

“Match me if you can” at Pakhuis de Zwijger

On February 14, 2017, Pakhuis de Zwijger held an event called “Match me if you can.” The event featured a mix of writers, practitioners, and academics, all reflecting on dating app culture.

I spoke about “Making an Impression on Tinder,” with a look at my research and how we can use dating apps to confront our own stereotypes and prejudices. The talk is available on video here (the event was in Dutch, but my talk is in English). My presentation starts at 1:28:00.

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-15 at 00.49.18.jpgphoto credit: Urville Djasim