On 6 October 2023, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) opened its doors to host Black scholars and professionals across the Netherlands for a second year. This article gives you a behind the scenes look into the country's first-of-its-kind conference.
Big turnout for DBSC
The Dutch Black Scholar and Expert Conference (DBSC) was launched in 2022 with nearly 80 attendees. However, this year, the event doubled in attendance. Around 160 individuals joined us all across the country, representing various universities and organizations.
A platform for representation within academia
DBSC centres Black expertise and experience by highlighting ideas and (original) research from Black researchers, scholars, practitioners, students and other experts. The event aims to highlight and disseminate research conducted by Black scholars in the Netherlands. The event takes place annually in October during Black Achievement Month. Comparable to Black History Month, Black Achievement Month was started in the Netherlands to spotlight the talents of people of African descent.
In Dutch academia, there's a notable underrepresentation of academics of Black or African descent. Participants at DBSC often share their experiences of feeling out of place in a landscape with a lack of ethnic diversity, making it challenging for researchers and professionals to confront racism and discrimination without facing undue scrutiny.
Dr Daphina Misiedjan, Assistant Professor in Environmental Justice and Human Rights at ISS, spearheaded this conference with the support of several Black scholars across the country. Their mission is to bridge the gap between Black academics and practitioners, providing them with a sense of community and support. 'I wanted to create a space that centers both the experience as well as the expertise from this group,' she says. 'So especially young researchers could have a safe space to practice and the general public could learn more about their amazing work.'
Themes and performances: a diverse offering
The selection of presentations is based on open-call submissions, resulting in themes that tackle contemporary issues head-on. This year's lineup included presentations on the ever-evolving field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), climate change, community health practices, black epistemologies (theory of knowledge), navigating Dutch society while being deaf, racial profiling, Dutch political representation, and the pursuit of joy within academia.
During the conference, attendees were treated to a variety of formats, including engaging panel discussions, live Q&A sessions, thought-provoking documentaries, and interactive workshops. And, as a special treat, the musical talents of Vernon Chatlein and Karpachii graced the stage, blending their heritage and unique sounds into soulful performances.
Check out scenes from DBSC
The future of DBSC
Dr Misiedjan wants to see the expansion of DBSC. 'I hope the conference can continue to grow in the future and that it will be supported widely by the community itself as well as other Dutch universities and Universities of Applied Sciences,' she says proudly. 'I think this initiative provides a great opportunity to invest in a more inclusive future for especially higher education'. Are you itching to attend the next Dutch Black Scholar and Expert Conference? Rest assured, you can expect a third edition next year. If you would like to participate in the next edition in 2024, keep your eyes peeled for the next open call, expected in the summer of that year.