Wigbertson Julian Isenia, who uses the pronouns he/they, currently holds the position of Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. Academically trained in Cultural Analysis with a Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam, Dr. Isenia’s interdisciplinary scholarship blends ethnographic methods with archival research to critically investigate Caribbean identities, postcolonial contexts, and queer subjectivities.
Dr. Isenia’s academic inquiries primarily engage with the nexus of gender, sexuality, and (post)colonialism. He dissects the cultural articulations and practices—ranging from archival collections and literature to theatre and performance—in Caribbean contexts, notably Curaçao. His work illuminates how sexual and gender minority rights intersect with tourism and neo-colonial relations with the Netherlands, adding historical and contemporary layers to the conversation. One aspect of his work explores how postcolonial communities and intellectuals engage with historical records, thereby challenging or reconfiguring established societal paradigms.
Dr. Isenia has contributed articles to peer-reviewed journals such as “Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies,” “Feminist Review,” Theaterkrant and Small Axe (forthcoming). His work delves into various facets of sexual politics, including how gender and sexual non-conforming identities have been regulated and represented in postcolonial archives. Notably, his article “Looking for kambrada: sexuality and social anxieties in the Dutch colonial archive, 1882-1923” received an honorable mention for the Gregory Sprague Prize in 2020 from the Committee on LGBT History, recognizing outstanding articles in LGBT+ and queer history.
Furthermore, he has contributed book chapters to reputable publications such as the “Routledge Companion to Sexuality and Colonialism” and “Postcolonial Intellectuals in Europe: Critics, Artists, Movements, and Their Publics” published by Rowman & Littlefield International. Other works were published in Inward Outward, Emotion in the Archive, Inward Outward, Critical Archival Engagements with Sounds and Films of Coloniality and a chapter in an anthology of Oxford University Press (forthcoming). These chapters highlight the interconnectedness of colonialism, sexual politics, race, and gender within Dutch postcolonial contexts, focusing on, among others, activism around HIV/AIDS.
His first monograph, titled “The Question of Dutch Politics as a Matter of Theatre: Theatre and Performance after the 2008 Financial Crisis,” published by Tectum Verlag in 2017, scrutinizes the influence of neoliberalism on Dutch cultural politics. Specifically, the work argues that theatre is a formidable medium for re-politicizing public discourses, making it an essential read for performance scholars and political analysts.
Beyond the realm of academia, Dr. Isenia co-curated exhibitions such as “Nos tei” in 2019 at IHLIA LGBT Heritage and “House of Hiv: the stories behind 40 years of community initiatives” in 2022, contributing to broader societal dialogues on queer communities and postcolonial identities.
In recognition of his scholarly contributions, Dr. Isenia has received several prizes, including the UvA 385 grant for a fellowship at New York University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. His expertise has further been sought after in academic peer-reviewing, where he has served as a reviewer for journals including “Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies,” “Performance Philosophy,” “Women’s History Review,” and “Caribbean Conjunctures: The Caribbean Studies Association Journal.”
He was interviewed and was featured in Parool, At5, Foam International Photography Magazine, VICE, Volkskrant, Afropunk and Caribischnetwerk. He presented his work at Pakhuis de Zwijger, Amsterdam Museum, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (London), Kadist (Paris), De Balie during Black Achievement Month, IQMF, Theater Generator, Lantarenvenster and Holland Festival. He presented his work at the Society for Caribbean Studies, The European Social Science History Conference and the Council for European Studies.
Working group teacher in the course 'Theory and History of Anthropology' and coordinator of the course 'Anthropology of the Netherlands including the Caribbean' in the Department of Anthropology and co-coordinator of the course 'Doing Diversity' in the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.
Working group teacher in the course 'Theory and History of Anthropology' and coordinator of the courses 'Anthropology of the Netherlands including the Caribbean' and 'Beyond the Surface: Exploring Diversity, Power, and Inclusion.' Also co-coordinator of the course 'Decolonial Praxis: Racialized and Gendered Bodies' with Dr. Alana Helberg-Proctor.
In 2023, Isenia served as a lecturer at the Netherlands Research School of Gender Studies (NOISE) Summer School. The program, titled "Queer, Trans, Sexual Archives," was held at Utrecht University in The Netherlands from 28 August to 1 September.