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Dr. H.H. (Hanneke) Stuit

Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Fotograaf: Sander Nieuwenhuys

  • Spuistraat 134
  • Kamernummer: 706
  • Postbus 1642
    1000 BP Amsterdam
  • Profile

    Key words: carceral, rural, domestic colonisation, South Africa, The Netherlands, literature, affect & genre, metaphoricity & space.

    I am Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam and am affiliated with the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA).

    Currently, I’m working on my second monograph, provisionally entitled Reimaging the Rural: Pastoral Entrapment and Dis-Enclosure in South Africa (Bloomsbury Academic). The book examines South African literature and film to glean new registers for thinking the rural beyond the trap of dominant and idyllic imaginaries about the countryside that are rooted in devastating colonial habits of thought about enclosure, cultivation and extraction. This project came to fruition in the ERC project Rural Imaginations.

    My new project is entitled The Carceral Idyll: Imperial Legacies, Domestic Colonisation and the Will to Confine in the Netherlands, in which I explore the development of the “carceral idyll” – the belief that confining people in the right way and in the right place will benefit society – as portrayed in literature, documentaries, and marketing materials related to three specific detention sites in the Netherlands: the Colonies of Benevolence, camp Westerbork, and the asylum center in Ter Apel. The project seeks to shed light on the often unacknowledged influence of Dutch colonialism on imprisonment, both at home and abroad. For more information, see under projects on this website.

    Planetary Hinterlands: Extraction, Abandonment and Care

    "If Engels could once open an investigation of capitalism from the deck of the ship coming into harbor, this stunning collection makes clear that such an investigation today would have to begin from the hinterland. From swamps and drowned villages to windfarms and deindustrialized wastelands, these essays place the hinterland at the center of capitalism's new logistical form and chart a powerful global map for imaging, understanding, and resisting the subjection of hinterland networks to capitalism's multiple violences. No one will be able to ignore the political, historical, and planetary significance of the hinterland after reading this book."
    --- Charmaine Chua, Department of Global Studies, University of California Santa Barbara

    For a full description, please see here.


    "Carceral Worlds investigates how the concept of the carceral and its bordering holds and are held. Attentive to assaults on geographic liberatory practices and the resonances of carceral states beyond the prison, nowhere in this conceptual work do the authors forget on whose bodies the hold lands. Collectively, the authors offer a profound meditation on how the carceral bleeds its logics across tight epistemic and institutional walls, how the punitive polices a global ordering of spatial distinctions and temporal inequities, and ultimately, how the carceral is a predatory form of life that sustains racial capitalism."

    --- Kathryn Yussof, Queen Mary University of London

    For a full description, please see here.

    photo by Emily Ng

    Dutch Domestic Colonisation: From Rural Idyll to Prison Museum

    This special issue asks how the carceral, the rural and the colonial intersect in the Dutch Colonies of Benevolence. How do current uses obscure the Colonies’ uncomfortable connections to Dutch colonization in the East and West Indies? Which views of Veenhuizen are actively pursued and sanctioned, and which are disavowed? In order to explore these connections and questions, this cluster brings together close readings of contemporary elements of Veenhuizen, the historical context of the Colonies of Benevolence, and its resonance with other contexts that pertain to the colonial, the agricultural, and the carceral. As the joint contributions show, imaginations of the rural offer an idealized setting for lofty ideals and spectacularized consumption that render the rural invisible as a situated territory traversed by various structures of power and control.

    Ubuntu Strategies: Constructing Spaces of Belonging in Contemporary South African Culture

    This book examines the ways in which ubuntu is continuously shaped and reshaped in different media in contemporary South African culture, such as literature, photography, cartoon art, journalistic fiction, and commercial television. It also studies ubuntu’s recent global dissemination and commodification, and critically assesses various approaches to ubuntu from different disciplines. From these various uses, ubuntu emerges as a powerful tool for thinking through problems of social inclusion and exclusion, and provides a nuanced perspective on what it means to strive for social harmony and communal unity. Ubuntu Strategies attends to the cultural production of ubuntu and argues that it is not just about being part of a common humanity, but also involves strategic decisions that balance self and other, particular and universal, local and global, difference and sameness, as well as violence and safety. The literary and cultural theoretical approach offered in Ubuntu Strategies thus provides a new perspective that addresses the role of representation in ubuntu, both supplementing and challenging legal and political inquiries of the concept.

  • Teaching

    In 2024-25 I teach the MA Comparative Literature core course "Texts in the 21st Century: Forms of Writing and Reading"; the rMA Literary Studies core course "Key Debates in Literary and Cultural Studies" and the Bachelor's Literary and Cultural Analysis core course "Concepts for Reading Contemporary Cultures."

    I encourage students to contact me if they want to organise tutorials that intersect with my research interests. I have no set office hours, so please make an appointment by email.



  • Projects

    The Carceral Idyll: Colonial Legacies in Dutch Rural Detention Sites

    This project studies the political work that culturally engrained repertoires of carcerality and rurality do in obfuscating the colonial legacies and neocolonial operations of (former) detention sites in the Dutch countryside. I focus on three sites: the Colonies of Benevolence, particularly Frederiksoord and Veenhuizen; Westerbork; and the asylum centre in Ter Apel.

    The reason for this corpus selection has to do with these sites’ “convenient” rural location. The rural often functions as a “sink for offloading capitalist crises” (Schneider 2017) and this seems to be very much the case here. The Colonies of Benevolence was designed to offload the political threat and economic burden of poverty from Dutch cities in the early 19th century; Westerbork was built in Drenthe because Queen Wilhelmina did not want a Jewish refugee camp next to Paleis het Loo; the prolonged crises in the asylum centre in Ter Apel, the administrative capital of Dutch asylum logistics, only punctures national politics when it bangs the cage of the countryside as an uneventful region loudly enough.

    The sites exist in very different cultural frames. The Colonies of Benevolence represent a still relatively “hidden” part of Dutch colonial history and are generally not considered under the nomenclature of detention at all. They consisted of 7 agricultural colonies (3 of which were penal colonies) built in the Netherlands and Belgium between 1818 and 1825 to “lift up” impoverished populations from the cities through labour and moral education. Depictions of the transit camp Westerbork form an important part of national(ist) discourses about the commemoration of Jewish experiences during World War II, whereas depictions of the same camps being used to house Moluccan people who were forced to flee the Decolonial War in Indonesia receive much less attention in discussion of the site. When it comes to detention sites for people seeking asylum in the present day, one can encounter a lot of material in Dutch news media on Ter Apel, but, incidents and crises aside, the site itself is rarely shown or discussed, nor its rationale questioned.

    Yet, all three sites exist in close proximity to each other and are of a scale that belies the Netherlands’ reputation as a nation with a limited or benevolent carceral tradition. All three places are located in the Dutch rural, in a region with a reputation of poverty and “roughness” (as well as a strong socialist tradition) that has been notoriously extracted for peat in the 19th century. In colonial contexts, one would be tempted to call this region a (former) “waste land.” The three sites also suggest a historical timeline: the early 19th century, the WWII / Decolonial Wars era and the present day. The project investigates how received ideas and culturally engrained repertoires about the countryside keep these sites available for mainstream national purposes (like glorifying the welfare state, commemorating WWII in specific ways or keeping migrant detention from the public eye). However, the historical and material reality of all three sites is that they continue to function as wingewesten to the national metropole: colonial hinterlands to be extracted for raw material on the one hand and particularly to be used for offloading crisis on the other.

    The goal of the project is to trace the development of carceral idylls in these places: the belief that confining people in the right way, in the right place and for the right amount of time will benefit society. My hypothesis is that romanticisations of the countryside, like the idealization of agricultural labour and the wholesomeness of the natural environment – are integral to the justification of colonial domination and carcerality. Unearthing the imbrication between the rural, the carceral and the colonial is thus key for understanding how the obfuscation of unwanted populations to the countryside could be regarded, and to a large extent, continues to be regarded as acceptable.

    By analysing how confinement and rurality intersect in various artworks, media and discourses about these specific sites, the project seeks to contribute to more well-rounded perspectives on the “will to confine” in the wider Netherlands and on the legacies of (Dutch) colonial histories that lie closer to home than we are perhaps inclined to think. Such a discussion aids decolonial and possibly also abolitionist debates along intersectional lines (race, class, gender, ability) by introducing the influence of the rural vector into the discussion and by making clear that colonization is not only something that the Netherlands unleashed overseas on “others” but that its strategies of incarceration were inscribed into the very design of the modern, “domestic” nation state and landscape.


    Academic and societal relevance

    • The project traces the legacies of an often unacknowledged history of Dutch domestic colonisation and particularly how romanticised stereotypes of agricultural labour made this legacy possible.
    • The project develops the concept of the carceral idyll in order to better understand a given society’s will to confine people. This concept also has analytical purchase in contexts beyond the Netherlands and helps to deconstruct unacknowledged logics and justifications of confinement and domination.
    • The project adds the deconstruction of the harmful effects of persistent city-country dynamics to intersectional categories of social analysis (like race, gender, class, sexuality, age or ability).
    • The project deepens decolonial debates by offering historically contextualised perspectives on colonial and imperial legacies that fit with a situated analysis of racisms in the Netherlands (see Wekker 2016 and Essed and Hoving 2014).
    • It fosters site specific methodological collaboration between literary and cultural analysis, (economic and historical) anthropology, political science, (carceral) geography, and architecture.


    Related grants and publications

    Special issue in Collateral: Online Journal for Cross-Cultural Close Reading entitled “Dutch Domestic Colonization: From Rural Idyll to Prison Museum.” 2020

    Hanneke Stuit and Neeltje ten Westenend. “Plot, Tree and Lane: Plotting Counter Visuality in in Growing Archive of (Re)Construction. 2024

    NIAS fellowship on The Carceral Idyll, 2024

    Together with Sabrina Puddu, Geertje Bernaerts and several other colleagues, I’m working on an encyclopedia entry on the Colonies of Benevolence for the Palgrave Encyclopedia for Cultural Heritage and Conflict.

  • Publicaties


    • Gupta, P., Nuttall, S., Peeren, E., & Stuit, H. (Eds.) (2024). Planetary Hinterlands: Extraction, Abandonment and Care. (Palgrave Studies in Globalisation, Culture & Society). Palgrave Macmillan. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24243-4 [details]
    • Peeren, E., Stuit, H., Nuttall, S., & Gupta, P. (2024). Introduction: Conceptualizing Hinterlands. In P. Gupta, S. Nuttall, E. Peeren, & H. Stuit (Eds.), Planetary Hinterlands: Extraction, Abandonment and Care (pp. 3-31). (Palgrave Studies in Globalisation, Culture & Society). Palgrave Macmillan. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-24243-4_1 [details]



    • Peeren, E., Bosma, A., Stuit, H. H., & Valdés Olmos, T. R. (2022). Inleiding: Het platteland - De idylle voorbij? . Armada, 21(75), 4-5.
    • Stuit, H. (2022). An archive of possible futures: rural idylls and the recrafting of colonial history. In J. Stobbe, R. Deen, & M. van der Waal (Eds.), Magic visions: Portraying and inventing South Africa with lantern slides (pp. 161-176). (SZAHN Series; Vol. 2). Zuid-Afrikahuis. https://www.zuidafrikahuis.nl/evenementen/#Publicaties [details]
    • Stuit, H. H. (2022). Het platteland in woelige tijden: Schuivende tijdschalen in Ingrid Winterbach's Die troebel tyd. Armada, 21(75), 7-8. [3].


    • Robbe, K., Kedgaudaite, K., Stuit, H., Thomas, K., & Timofeeva, O. (2021). In and Out of Crisis: Chronotopes of Memory. In M. Boletsi, N. Lemos Dekker, K. Mika, & K. Robbe (Eds.), (Un)Timely Crises: Chronotopes and Critique (pp. 51-76). (Palgrave Studies in Globalization, Culture and Society). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-74946-0_4 [details]



    • Stuit, H. (2018). Het geweld van de overlever(ing): Mens dier ding (2014) van Alfred Schaffer. In J. Dera, & C. De Strycker (Eds.), Bundels van het nieuwe millennium: Nederlandse en Vlaamse poëzie in de 21e eeuw (pp. 231-240). Nijmegen: Vantilt. [details]


    • Peeren, E., Stuit, H., & van Weyenberg, A. (2016). Introduction: Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present. In E. Peeren, H. Stuit, & A. van Weyenberg (Eds.), Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present: Spaces, Mobilities, Aesthetics (pp. 1-29). (Thamyris/Intersecting: Place, Sex and Race; No. 31). Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004323056_002 [details]
    • Stuit, H. (2016). Ubuntu Strategies: Constructing Spaces of Belonging in Contemporary South African Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [details]








    • Peeren, E., Stuit, H., & van Weyenberg, A. (Eds.) (2016). Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present: Space, Mobility, Aesthetics. (Thamyris/Intersecting: Place, Sex and Race; Vol. 31). Brill Rodopi. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004323056 [details]



    • Stuit, H. (2016). De kunst van ubuntu: kloppend hart van dialogische politiek [Bespreking van: H. Haenen (2016) Ubuntu en Nelson Mandela: Afrikaanse filosofie van verzoening]. Maandblad Zuid-Afrika, 93(6), 138-138. [details]


    • Stuit, H. (2014). Woordeloos tot verhaal: trauma en narratief in Nederlands en Afrikaans [Bespreking van: H. Ester, C. van der Merwe (2012) Woordeloos tot verhaal: trauma en narratief in Nederlands en Afrikaans]. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, 130(2). http://www.tntl.nl/boekbeoordelingen/?p=1424 [details]
    • Stuit, H. (2014). Zo ver en zo dichtbij: Literaire betrekkingen tussen Nederland en Zuid-Afrika [Bespreking van: P. Liebregts, O. Praamstra (2013) Zo ver en zo dichtbij: literaire betrekkingen tussen Nederland en Zuid-Afrika]. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde, 130(2). http://www.tntl.nl/boekbeoordelingen/?p=1360 [details]


    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (24-3-2024). The Carceral Idyll and the Will to Confine, Imagining Incarceration, Rotterdam. https://www.tentrotterdam.nl/en/event/imagining-incarceration-a-talk-with-robert-glas-and-hanneke-stuit/
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (9-3-2024). Dislodging Rural Time in Ingrid Winterbach’s The Troubled Times of Margrieta Prinsloo (2018), Reimagining Ruralities: From Heartlands to Hinterlands, New York.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (29-11-2023). “Soese tightrope tussen twie buildings”, Zuid Afrika Huis. https://www.zuidafrikahuis.nl/product/soese-tightrope-tussen-twie-buildings/
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (12-11-2021). The Question of Silence in Nthikeng Mohlele’s Michael K (2018), Articulating belonging: translingualism, belonging and the creation of South African social collectivities, Amsterdam.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (6-10-2021). Metaphors of Confinement: The Prison in Fact, Fiction and Fantasy, Book Symposium: Metaphors of Confinement: The Prison in Fact, Fiction and Fantasy, London. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr2NkPhd8Q4
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (3-6-2021). Road, Town, and Mountain: Localising the Hinterland, Hinterlands , Johannesburg.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (14-11-2019). The Ruins of the Rural Idyll, ERC Rural Imaginations Expert Meeting UK, Aberystwyth.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (5-6-2019). Rural Imaginations - South African subproject, ERC Rural Imaginations Launch Meeting, Amsterdam.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (13-4-2017). Zones of Confinement: Carceral Imaginaries in Ian Gabriel's Four Corners (2013), English Department Faculty Lecture, Universiteit van Amsterdam.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (17-6-2016). Van achter het glas: Florence in J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron, Afscheid prof.dr. Ena Janssen, Amsterdam.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (16-6-2016). Prisons and Parasites: Narrative Economies in the South African Number Gangs, Narrative 2016, Amsterdam.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (11-5-2016). The Bastardisation of History: Mythology in Tertius Kapp’s Rooiland, African Arts and Literatures Today, Leiden.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (23-10-2015). Transachtig Ubuntu. Medemenselijkheid en transgressie in J.M. Coetzee’s Age of Iron, Ghents Colloquium voor Afrikaans 2015, Ghent.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (12-3-2015). One Art van Elizabeth Bishop, Poëzie en waanzin, Amsterdam Spui 25.
    • Stuit, H. (speaker) (15-5-2013). The Affective Mobility of Ubuntu, or How Concepts Travel, Cultural Encounters and the Discourses of Scholarship, Rostock.


    • Robbe, K. (organiser), Stuit, H. (organiser) & Sunderason, S. (organiser) (28-10-2021 - 29-10-2021). Eternal Presents and Resurfacing Futures, Groningen. The end of the Cold War at the turn of the 1990s initiated a global discourse of contemporaneity that was meant to deconstruct the linear progressive (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.oslit.nl/eternal-presents-and-resurfacing-futures-postcolonial-postsocialist-dynamics-of-time-and-memory-in-literature-and-art/
    • Stuit, H. (member of programme committee), van der Waal, M. (member of programme committee), Robbe, K. (member of programme committee) & Vitackova, M. (member of programme committee) (16-10-2021 - 30-7-2022). Footnotes, Amsterdam. Our new bi-monthly interdisciplinary program on changemaking voices in artwork, books, films and other media. We’ll be talking about black feminism, (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.zuidafrikahuis.nl/product/footnotes-intersectional-strategies-in-south-africa-%E2%80%A8episode-1-curating-caring-confronting-and…
    • Stuit, H. (organiser) & Saramifar, Y. (organiser) (15-10-2021). Caring for Science, Amsterdam. Academic competition to reach the upper echelons of the university has come to resemble the labours of Hercules. Academics, both educators and (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...). https://amsterdamyoungacademy.nl/aya_news/caring-for-science-october-15-19-00h-uva-doelenzaal
    • Stuit, H. (organiser) & Peeren, E. (organiser) (3-6-2021 - 4-6-2021). Hinterlands, Johannesburg. Defined as a remote area situated away from coasts, riverbanks or cities, the hinterland involves a profound entanglement between the city and the (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.ruralimaginations.com/hinterland-call-for-paper
    • Stuit, H. (organiser) & Weegels, J. (organiser) (18-6-2020). Carcerality in the Globalised Present, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Stuit, H. (examiner) (9-11-2017). Writing the Nation: Transculturation and Nationalism in Hispano-Filipino Literature from the Early Twentieth Century (examination).
    • Stuit, H. (organiser) (23-9-2016). Human Nature. Memory, Ecology and Aesthetics in Contemporary Afrikaans Literature, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Stuit, H. (examiner) (6-7-2016). Sonic Resistance: Diaspora, Marginality, and Censorship in Cuban and Brazilian Popular Music (examination).
    • Stuit, H. (organiser) (1-3-2016 - 1-6-2016). African Arts and Literatures Today, Leiden (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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