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Philomena Essed, PhD

Antioch University Graduate School of Leadership and Change

Philomena Essed is a professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Leadership Studies at Antioch University’s Graduate School of Leadership and Change and an affiliated researcher for Utrecht University’s Graduate Gender program. She holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam and Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Pretoria (2011) and Umeå University (2015). Her research and teaching transcends national, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries. Well known for introducing the concepts of everyday racism and gendered racism in the Netherlands and internationally, she also pioneered in developing theory on what she has called social and cultural cloning.  Her work has been adopted and applied in a range of countries, including the US, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Russia, the UK, Switzerland, and Australia. She has lectured in many countries – from Germany to Brazil; from South-Africa to Canada. Essed writes in English and in Dutch. Some of her articles have been translated into French, German, Italian, Swedish, and Portuguese. Her publications span decades, including the now classical publications: the 1984 book(in Dutch) Alledaags Racisme (English version, Everyday Racism: Reports from Women of Two Cultures, 1990, republished in Dutch in 2018; and the book Understanding Everyday Racism (1991): An interdisciplinary Theory. 

Other books include  Diversity: Gender, Color and Culture, and co-edited volumes: Race Critical Theories; Refugees and the Transformation of Societies; A Companion to Gender Studies (‘outstanding’ 2005 CHOICE award); Clones, Fakes, and Posthumans: Cultures of Replication, (2012); Dutch Racism (2014); and Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanization, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness (2018).

Essed has a lifelong commitment to social justice with a current focus on dignity and ethics of care as experience and practice in leading change. She has been an advisor to governmental and non-governmental organizations, nationally and internationally. In the Netherlands, she has been a member of the state Selection Commission for the Judiciary  (2003-2010, appointed by the State Department of Justice). She has also been Deputy Member of The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights, where she served as a panel member in hearings on structural discrimination, including race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, and disability (2004-2016).

As an expert witness on race, gender and racism in Europe she presented among others at The European Parliament (Brussels, 1984); The United Nations Economic and Social Council (New York, 2001); The House of Representatives of the States-General (The Hague, the Netherlands, 2004); the United States Helsinki Commission (Capitol Hill, Washington, 2008) and the EU Parliament hearing on Afrophobia (Brussels, 2014). She is a founding faculty member of the very successful international Black Europe Summer School (2008-) where she offers yearly courses on the broad theme of Racism and Xenophobia: Causes and Consequences’, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In 2011 The Queen of the Netherlands honored her with a Knighthood.

Educational History

  • University of Amsterdam, Social Sciences, PhD cum laude*
  • University of Amsterdam, Social Anthropology, MA

*The Dutch university system acknowledges one merit distinction, cum laude, for PhD research of exceptional quality

Selected presentations

As a social justice scholar with a global orientation, Essed presents regularly internationally on various themes including everyday racism, dehumanization, and humiliation, cultural cloning in Higher Education and in the professions, entitlement racism, dignity, social justice.

  • 2020: Ouder Kind Teams (Parent-Child Teams). Keynote at yearly Inspiration Days, for 2020 on the team of Diversity. Theater De Meervaart. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 2019: Ministry of Culture and Education, Finland, Conference on’ Research and Innovation Excellence Through Gender Equality: New Pathways and Challenges, Panel on ‘Intersectionality and Systemic Inequality in Research and Innovation, invited Panelist. Helsinki, Finland (twitter comments: https://twitter.com/NewPathways2019 )
  • 2019: Utrecht University, Graduate Gender Program, National Research Day 2019 ‘Doing Gender in the Netherlands: Living a Feminist Life in a Neoliberal Academia’. Keynote on ‘An Ethic of Care: Changing Rules of the Game’. Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 2019: University of Groningen, Conference ‘Growing Together: Celebrating Diversity and Fostering Inclusion’. Keynote on ‘From Cultural Cloning To A Whole Person Approach In Higher Education’. Groningen, The Netherlands
  • 2018: Aalborg University, Denmark and the University of Stravanger, Norway, Conference ‘Race in Contemporary Denmark’. Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 2018: St Andrews University, Scotland, Centre for Minorities Research, Inaugural Speech
  • Umeå University, Sweden, Honorary Doctorate in the Social Sciences, 2015 Video
  • University of Pretoria, South Africa, Honorary Doctorate in Education, 2011
  • Knighthood in the Order of Oranje-Nassau, awarded by H.R.M. Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands, 2011

Selected community honors

  • International Exhibition ‘We Have a Dream’: Ghandi, King, Mandela. Amsterdam, de New Church.Video portret interview with Philomena Essed as part of the exhibition; 2017 https://www.nieuwekerk.nl/tentoonstellingen/wehaveadream
  • NiNsee [Dutch National Institute Slavery History and Legacy – Dutch name: Nationaal Instituut, Nederlands Slavernijverleden en Erfenis, NiNsee. Black Achievement Award, category of Science, 2017

Selected community social justice interventions.

Essed has been interviewed numerous times about pressing social issues, in particular the nature of (global) racism, its relation to other forms of oppression, paths towards social justice, and leading change. Interviews have been issued in scholarly and public media formats, in English and in Dutch, recent examples of which include:

  • 2019: Art Gallery de Appel, Historic Encounters, Public Conversation between Philomena Essed and Françoise Vergès, in the context of the Exhibition ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Too’ by Patricia Kaersenhout.
  • 2019: Report Islamophobia Foundation, Presentation of the report ‘Everyday Islamophobia’, Invited response to the report. Amsterdam, Pakhuis de Zwijger.
  • 2019: Pakhuis de Zwijger, Urban Conference on ‘We Make the City Better’. Minority Report: About Social Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion in the City. Public Interview: From Diversity to Inclusion. Amsterdam, The Netherlands [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UBJlxktOVo&list=PLuVPGU2p5H-pNq21RWXWNH-lO8PQaSCUg&index=2&t=0s] video position:1:58-2:35.
  • 2019: Nieuw Wij [New We]. Zoë Papaikonomou: “ hoe leren we ongemakkelijk te zijn met elkaar?: Professor Philomena Essed over Waardigheid, zorg en ongemak. (2019) [How do we learn to feel discomfort with each other? Professor Essed about Dignity, Care and Discomfort].
    https://www.nieuwwij.nl/interview/philomena-essed-uit-elk-ongemak-dat-ik-heb-ervaren-is-een-verrassende-ontdekking-voortgekomen/

As a social justice scholar with a global orientation, Essed has presented throughout the world on a range of themes including everyday racism, cultural dehumanization and humiliation, cultural cloning in Higher Education and in the professions, entitlement racism, dignity, care, ethics, and social justice. Often these social justice interventions, where she engages with scholarly, professional, community, and activist audiences, are the basis for publications around concepts she introduced or further developed. Below are a handful of pioneering articles:

  • ‘Entitlement Racism and its Intersections, An Interview with Philomena Essed, Social Justice Scholar’. With Sara Louise Muhr. In Ephemera: Theory and Politics in Organization, Volume 18, 1. Pp 183 – 201. (2018)
  • ‘In the name of our humanity: challenging academic racism and its effects on the emotional wellbeing of women of colour professors’, with Karen Carberry, The International Handbook of Black Community Mental Health, Richard Majors, Karen Carberry and Theodore Ransaw (Eds). Emerald Publishing (2020)
  • Women Social Justice Scholars: Risks and Rewards of Committing to Antiracism. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Vol 36, Nr 9, Pp 1393-1410 (2013)
  • Entitlement Racism: License to Humiliate. Recycling Hatred: Racism(s) in Europe Today. ENAR (Ed). Brussels: ENAR (European Network Against Racism. Pp 62-77 (2013)
  • Cloning the Physician. In Clones, Fakes and Posthumans: Cultures of Replication. Co-edited Volume with Gabrielle Schwab. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi. Pp127-140 (2012)

Selected international university affiliations

  • Utrecht University, the Netherlands, Research Institute Culture and History, Graduate Gender Program, Affiliated Researcher
  • Uppsala University, Sweden, Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism, International Advisory Board

Selected professional affiliations

  • Black European Studies Series, Peter Lange Publications, Advisory Board Member, 2019 – present
  • Journal for Citizenship and Globalisation, Editorial Advisory Board
  • Center for Intersectional Justice. Berlin. Associated Expert
  • Feminist Formations, Advisory Board
Philomena Essed Headshot

Professor of Critical Race, Gender, and Leadership Studies,

PhD in Leadership and Change

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