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 Ume 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 social and cultural cloning in the early 2000s. More recently she introduced the concepts of entitlement racism and racism knowledge.
Her work has been adopted and applied in a range of countries, including the US, Canada, South Africa, Sweden, Finland, Germany, France, 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 and books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Swedish, Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic. 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); Racismekennis (Racism Knowledge) van Gennep, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2020.
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.