The Sarah van Walsum lecture of this year was delivered by professor Betty de Hart on Friday 20 September 2019, 15:45. The lecture, which is titled ‘Some cursory remarks on race, mixture and law by three Dutch jurists’, is also De Hart’s inaugural lecture as professor of Transnational Families and Migration Law at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The Sarah van Walsum lecture is the annual opening of the Master’s program in International Migration and Refugee Law and commemorates our late colleague Sarah van Walsum.
De Hart’s lecture addresses the question how race-thinking was part of the Dutch legal system and legal scholarship as a way to explore the ‘legal archive’. It discusses the legal work on race and mixture of three Dutch jurists: L.W.C. van den Berg (1845-1927), a colonial legislator who wrote the Mixed Marriages Act for the Dutch East Indies; W.F. Wertheim (1907-1998), professor in colonial law, who later distanced himself from the Dutch colonial system of which he had been part, and H. de Bie (1879-1955) who, as the first children’s judge in Rotterdam, worried about Dutch girls and their intimate relationships with Chinese men. This study argues that understanding our legal past (the ‘legal archive’) is crucial to further our knowledge about how race and mixture work in law today, and that such knowledge is vital for social justice.