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PhD candidate @ University of Amsterdam


Isenia is currently finishing his PhD at the University of Amsterdam on a Dutch national research council funded research project. His work centres on the concept of sexual citizenship beyond their legal conceptualisation in Curaçao and Bonaire by analysing cultural articulations and practices such as archival collections, literature, theatre, and cultural performance. He investigates how these cultural practices and articulations grapple with recent developments about sexual and gender minority rights, tourism, the colonial relationships with the Netherlands, and their historical legacy. He has published in Postcolonial Intellectuals in Europe (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), the Dutch Genderstudies Journal/Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies (2019) and The Routledge Companion to Sexuality and Colonialism (2021). His article ‘Looking for Kambrada: Sexuality and Social Anxieties in the Dutch Colonial Archive, 1882-1923,’ received an honourable mention for the Gregory Sprague Prize for an outstanding article on LGBT+ and queer history selected by the Committee on LGBT history (2020).

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Politics of Sexuality in the Dutch Caribbean


Emerging Same-sex Politics in Curaçao in the 1970s: Tensions between Gay Activism and Marikus, National and Neo-colonial Entanglements

The workers' revolt of 30 May 1969 in Curaçao, which led to greater awareness among the Black community, catapulted the introduction of national cultural practises such as carnival music and the further institutionalisation of the mother tongue of most of the population. However, despite these radical movements, the island remained in a neo- 27 colonial construction of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In this moment of change and continuation of the neo-colonial constitution, we can locate two homosexual groups: the Society for Antillean Homosexuals and the Homophile Antillean group. This paper will discuss two aspects of these groups, their attitude towards the mariku and their attitude towards the global and Dutch gay movement. First, in both groups, we can analyse a particular respectability politics, often at the expense of the mariku. Mariku, a pejorative term sometimes reclaimed, can mean a gay man, a feminine man, and a transgender woman. These discussions reflect contemporary tensions between trans* politics and broader LGB politics - which puts pressure on coalition building and raises questions about the role of language in describing us. Secondly, building on the question of language, I discuss the national and Kingdom-wide relationships that these groups maintained: from copying verbatim texts of Dutch gay magazines for national magazines to receiving support from the Dutch House of Representatives in disputes with the government of Curaçao or receiving free space for activities from the same government. All in all, both groups, with their shortcomings, strategic positions and co- dependencies, show what I call queer sovereignties.