“Between Past and Present: The Reverberations of Slavery in Contemporary Constitutional Law and Politics” 

Conversation with Prof. Ariela Gross, 23 February 2023, 1pm to 3pm
(Agora 1, VU Amsterdam)

Recently, there has been an increasing interest in the Dutch slavery history. This has resulted in apologies from the Prime Minister as well as from the mayors of the larger cities in the Netherlands. The Vrije Universiteit has started a project in which several researchers study the legal aspects of slavery and their continues impact on Dutch society (Juridische Slavernijgeschiedenis project), addressing hiatus in Dutch historiography and Dutch legal scholarship.

The Amsterdam Centre for Migration and Refugee Law (ACMRL) of the VU Amsterdam therefore cordially invites you to a conversation between Professor Ariela Gross and leading Dutch scholars, activists and experts from various academic and professional backgrounds, namely:

Ariela Gross, the John B. and Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law and History (USC Gould School of Law), is among the leading scholars researching on how the history and memory of slavery reverberate in constitutional law and politics. On 23 February 2023, she will present her research and elaborate on the nexus of past and present within the legal-historical studies of slavery.

„Our Constitution is colour-blind“ – this quote originates from Justice Harlan’s dissent in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and coined one of the most famous phrases in the US constitutional history. Harlan’s dictum was representative of the US Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, which invoked the “colour-blindness” in many of its landmark decisions. Liberal judges made use of this constitutional instrument to challenge segregation laws and a variety of other forms of discrimination in the mid-twentieth century. Conversely, rather conservative judges later invoked the “colour-blindness” of the constitution to invalidate programmes aiming to eliminate racial inequality by law. This episode marks just one of the many examples of how the history of slavery continues to shape legal, political, and social debates in the United States.

The event will be held in hybrid format. Participation is possible either in person or online! Please register until 21 February via the following link