Principal Investigator

Dr. Sruti Bala (University of Amsterdam)

Dr. Sruti Bala is Associate Professor in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She has been a fellow at International Research Centre “Interweaving Performance Cultures” at the Freie Universität Berlin and a guest lecturer at the University of Ghent (Belgium), the University of Hull at Scarborough (UK), the College of Music and Drama, Khartoum (Sudan), the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and the Central University of Hyderabad (India). She co-ordinates the MA Programme in Theatre Studies at the University of Amsterdam. She studied German Literature and Philosophy at the Universities of Bombay and Bonn and completed her doctoral study in Theatre Studies on ‘The Performativity of Nonviolent Protest in South Asia’ at the University of Mainz in 2007.

Her research interests are in the fields of performance theory, participatory art, pedagogy and performance. A long-standing interest in feminism pervades all her research involvements. Recent publications include: The Gestures of Participatory Art (Manchester University Press, 2018); International Performance Research Pedagogies: Towards an Unconditional Discipline? (co-edited with Milija Gluhovic, Hanna Korsberg and Kati Röttger, Basingstoke: Palgrave Springer, 2017); The Global Trajectories of Queerness in the Global South: Rethinking Same-Sex Politics in the Global South (co-edited with Ashley Tellis, Leiden: Brill, 2015) and "Humorous Approaches to Art and Activism in Conflict", special issue of European Journal of Humour Research (co-edited with Veronika Zangl, 2015).


Primary Caribbean Co-RESEARCHER

Dr. Rose Mary Allen (University of Curaçao)

Dr. Rose Mary Allen is a cultural anthropologist and is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Curaçao dr. Moises da Costa Gomez. She was awarded a knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau by the Netherlands for her exceptional contribution to society and a Cola Debrot award as well as the Boeli van Leeuwenprijs for her valuable contribution to and achievement in the sciences. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Curaçao, the Police Academy, the Institute for Education in Nursing, the University of West Indies at St. Augustine, and the University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras. She is presently assisting the Ministry of Culture in preparing a new cultural policy and founding a new Cultural Studies undergraduate programme at the University of Curaçao. She studied Sociology and Cultural and Social Anthropology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen and completed her doctoral study on ‘Di Ki Manera? [In what ways]: a Social History of Afro-Curaçaoans, 1863-1917’ at the University of Utrecht (2007).

The dissertation emphasises the close relationship between culture and power in daily life. It explores the ways the formerly enslaved Curaçaoans contested the asymmetric power relations dominated by the colonial state, the former slave-owners and the Roman Catholic Church. In the face of continuing racial, social and economic inequality, Afro-Curaçaoans carved out their own social practices, political and spiritual beliefs. This dissertation draws largely on the collected oral histories of Afro-Curaçaoans and interviews she did while she was a staff member at the Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Netherlands Antilles (AAINA) until the institute's demise in 1998. As part of her research at AAINA, Rose Mary Allen conducted many interviews with descendants of enslaved Africans on several islands of the Netherlands Antilles in order to document their lives in the post-emancipation period. She has dedicated herself to research on the social history of Curaçao and of Afro-Curaçaoans and other neglected social groups in particular. Her areas of special interest have been emancipation, oral history, identity, migration, and gender. Allen is the author or co-author of several books and has published myriad scholarly articles in international journals.

Since 2007 Allen has served as a member of the Communities of Practice,’ (SEDA), a centre for women’s development. From 2009-2012, she was a Research fellow at the Amsterdam School for Social science Research (ASSR), at the University of Amsterdam in a research project on “Citizenship, national canons and the issue of cultural diversity: The Netherlands in international perspective”. Here she focused on “Culturalization of citizenship: The Netherlands and Curaçao in comparative perspective.”

Phd candidate: gendered citizenship

Jacqueline Martis (University of Curaçao)


Jacqueline Martis is a researcher with a special interest in gender studies and human rights. She also has a strong record of community based involvement, activism and research on the Dutch Caribbean Islands. She currently works as consulting advisor  at the Ministry of Social Development, Labor and Welfare Curaçao in the Family and Youth sector. Her work area includes  gender policy development, international human rights reporting and data collection and capacity building in the area of domestic violence, gender and sexuality. She has done research on trafficking in the Netherlands Antilles, Sex work  and Tourism on Curaçao and St. Maarten and Domestic Violence in Curaçao. She has been recognized by the Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Child Abuse for her pioneer work in the field of domestic violence. She has been a guest lecturer at the University of Curaçao and teacher at the Police Academy.

For this NWO Project  she will examine how normative scripts of gendered citizenship are constructed and passed down in multi-generational households in Curaçao and Bonaire and  how women’s citizenship is impacted by the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality. By analyzing media and popular culture, conducting interviews with families, focus groups and participative observation, it also analyzes how these societies constitute gendered citizenship.

phd candidate: sexual citizenship 

Wigbertson Julian Isenia, University of Amsterdam

Wigbertson Julian Isenia is an actor, theatre director and scholar. He has an Ma degree in Arts and Culture (University of Amsterdam), and two bachelors, in interdisciplinary social sciences (University of Utrecht) and Theatre Studies (University of Amsterdam). During his MA, he received a scholarship from Bekker-la Bastide fund and the University of Amsterdam nominated him for the ECHO awards. These nominees are acknowledged for their distinctive qualities in higher education and the ECHO Foundation provides the opportunity to generate a critical mass of excelling migrant talent from higher education who distinguish themselves by excessive academic performance and social involvement. In 2016 Isenia conducted preliminary fieldwork research on same-sex lives and cultures on the island of Curaçao funded by the Sylva W. de Groot Fund (KITLV) and Stichting Fundatie van de Vrijvrouwe van Renswoude. This fieldwork research sought to gain an in-depth knowledge of same-sex loving subjects and lives of the Dutch Caribbean community, and of the way in which these confirm, disrupt, reiterate, reject, or maintain the logic of what is often posited as a ‘global queerness’. In this field work research he collected source materials related to a number of case studies in the areas of film, literature, theatre and cultural performance, combining immersive participatory observation, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and cultural performance analysis, as well as archival research on the island of Curacao.

In 2017, he was awarded the Decade Innovation Award for his ongoing project BLACK and LGBTQIA+ in the Netherlands by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment and Kennisplatform Integratie & Samenleving (under the banner of International Decade of People of African Descent from the United Nations). Within the NWO project he examines sexual citizenship as more than the sum of rights, duties and membership related to the nation state to include informal and intimate ways sexual minorities constitute themselves as political subjects in Curaçao and Bonaire. Sexual minorities in the Dutch Caribbean are consistently framed as if in need of development and modernisation. Concurrently, local populist politicians and religious leaders maintain that homosexuality is something un-Curaçaoan or un-Bonairean. This study seeks to understand sexual citizenship of communities experiencing multiple forms of marginalisation through immersive participation, oral history, discourse analysis and cultural performance in the Dutch Caribbean.

Supervised by mw. prof. dr. R.K. (Rivke) Jaffe and mw. dr. S. (Sruti) Bala.

phd candidate: Embodied Citizenship 

Aronnette Martis, University of Curacao

Aronnette Martis is a dance teacher, researcher and guest lecturer at the University of Curaçao. She was appointed as doctoral candidate in the project on 15 May 2018. She has a bachelor’s degree in European Studies (The Hague University) and a master’s degree in Cultural Anthropology (University of Utrecht). The research for her master’s thesis was conducted in Monrovia, Liberia where she examined gender issues among market women in the capital, in particular the impact of a female president on emancipation efforts in the capital city.

The doctoral research examines the gendered dimensions of traditional dance forms in Curaçao and Bonaire, and the role that dance has historically played in the formation of national identities in the context of the Dutch Caribbean. The aim is to gain in-depth knowledge of dance history and how gender expectations impact the freedom of movement and being of dancing citizens. The focus will be on traditional dances such as tambú, barí, waltz, mazurka, seú/simadan and danza and their development on these small island states. The study will cover key developments in the 20th century till the present day. The history, meaning for society and the development of these various ways of dancing are partly unknown and not yet extensively documented. This field work research will contribute to existing knowledge by shedding light onto several dance forms in both Curaçao and Bonaire and the embodied performance of sexuality and gender. Dance culture will be studied through participant observation, interviews, focus groups and archival research.

Supervised by mw. dr. Rose Mary Allen, mw. dr. Sruti Bala and prof.dr. Wim Rutgers