Publication

De representatie van Zwarte Piet in kinderboeken (1850-2013)

Vermuyen, C. & Schuiling, N., Jul-2019, Science Shop, University of Groningen. 47 p.

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

  • Cleo Vermuyen
  • Nienke Schuiling
The Dutch fictional character ‘Black Pete’, part of a Dutch children’s tradition (Saint Nicholas - celebrated on December 5th), has been subject to a yearly recurring debate in The Netherlands. The discussion focusses on the possible racist characteristics of Black Pete and the necessity for some civil society groups to change this. Both sides of the debate (roughly divided between progressive antiracists and conservative traditionalists) use historical arguments to claim the truth, but both with very little academic reasoning.

This research examines the representation of Black Pete in children’s books from 1850 to 2013. Cleo Vermuyen and Nienke Schuiling, both students of Dutch Language and Culture, selected 40 books to analyse the behavior and looks of Black Pete and the relation of the character to Saint Nicholas and the children.

In conclusion, we can draw a line in the way Black Pete is portrayed. In the older books, Black Pete is above all the indispensable helper of Saint Nicholas. In the books that follow, especially those who were published after the 1950’s, he becomes his own person and develops a friendlier relationship towards Saint Nicholas and other characters. From the 1990’s onwards, Black Pete’s master-helper relation with Saint Nicholas disappears, and the character focusses more on his personal life.
Translated title of the contributionThe representation of Black Pete in children's books (1850-2013)
Original languageDutch
PublisherScience Shop, University of Groningen
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2019

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