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Dr. W.G.S.J. (Julian) Isenia

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exploring Diversity
Photographer: Ayda Abdan Kondori

Visiting address
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Postal address
  • Postbus 15509
    1001 NA Amsterdam
Contact details
  • Profile

    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.

  • Teaching

    (2022-2023)

    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.

    (2023-2024)

    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.

  • Publications

    2024

    • De Vito, A., Colpani, A., Moi, G., Babudieri, S., Calcagno, A., Calvino, V., Ceccarelli, M., Colpani, G., d’Ettorre, G., Di Biagio, A., Farinella, M., Falaguasta, M., Focà, E., Giupponi, G., Habed, A. J., Isenia, W. G. S. J., Lo Caputo, S., Marchetti, G., Modesti, L., ... Madeddu, G. (2024). Assessing ChatGPT’s Potential in HIV Prevention Communication: A Comprehensive Evaluation of Accuracy, Completeness, and Inclusivity. AIDS & Behavior. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-024-04391-2
    • Isenia, W. J. (2024). Studies on Trans* and Same-Sex Loving People in Curaçao: a Review Essay. In R. M. Allen, & S. Bala (Eds.), Handbook of Gender Studies in the Dutch Caribbean (Vol. 01, pp. 427-439). (Handbooks in Caribbean Studies). Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004690882_038 [details]

    2022

    2019

    2017

    • Isenia, W. J. (2017). The question of Dutch politics as a matter of theatre: Theatre and performance after the 2008 financial crisis. (AGENT – Amsterdam/Gent New Theses in Performance Research; Vol. 8). Tectum Verlag. [details]

    2016

    • Isenia, W. J. (2016). The global trajectories of queerness: Re-thinking same-sex politics in the Global South: [Review of: A. Tellis & S. Bala (2015) The global trajectories of queerness: Re-thinking same-sex politics in the Global South]. Tijdschrift voor Genderstudies, 19(4), 480-484. https://doi.org/10.5117/TVGN2016.4.RECE [details]

    2022

    • Isenia, W. G. S. J. (2022). Love and Compassion amid Many Adversities: On Black, Queer Archival Practices. In R. S. Miles, A. Osbourne, E. Captain, E. Tzialli, A. Benedicty-Kokken, A. Fischer, & W. Modest (Eds.), Inward Outward, Emotion in the Archive: A Publication of the 2021 Inward Outward Symposium (pp. 16-19). Inward Outward. https://doi.org/10.18146/inout2021

    2021

    • Isenia, W. J. (2021). Queer sovereignties: Re-imagining sexual citizenship from the Dutch Caribbean. In C. Schields, & D. Herzog (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Sexuality and Colonialism (pp. 274-282). (Routledge companions). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429505447-24 [details]

    2020

    • Isenia, W. G. S. J., & Steinbock, E. A. (2020). Magical Terms: On Defining and Positioning the “Decolonial” and “Queer” in Archival Practices. In R. S. Miles, A. Osbourne, E. Tzialli, & E. Captain (Eds.), Inward Outward, CriticalArchival Engagements with Sounds andFilms of Coloniality: A Publication ofthe 2020 Inward Outward Symposium (pp. 9-12).

    2018

    • Colpani, G., & Isenia, W. J. (2018). Strange Fruits: Queer of Color Intellectual Labor in the Netherlands in the 1980s and 1990s. In S. Ponzanesi, & A. J. Habed (Eds.), Postcolonial Intellectuals in Europe: Critics, Artists, Movements, and their Publics (pp. 213-230). (Frontiers of the political). Rowman & Littlefield International. [details]

    2023

    2018

    Prize / grant

    Membership / relevant position

    • Isenia, J. (2024). Board member of George Mosse Fund Foundation, Mosse Foundation.

    Media appearance

    Talk / presentation

    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (29-10-2023). Queer Gaze Tour, Queer Gaze Tour. https://www.amsterdammuseum.nl/tentoonstelling/queer-gaze-tour-feargal-agard/28686
    • Isenia, J. (speaker), McBrien, J. (speaker) & Roodsaz, R. (keynote speaker) (23-9-2023). Sexual Self-Fashioning: Iranian Dutch Narratives of Sexuality and Belonging, Sexual Self-Fashioning: Iranian Dutch Narratives of Sexuality and Belonging, Amsterdam. https://spui25.nl/programma/sexual-self-fashioning-iranian-dutch-narratives-of-sexuality-and-belonging
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (21-9-2023). Intergenerational Feminisms, Intergenerational Feminisms “Feminism is for everybody”
      , Maastricht.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (10-9-2023). Onthulling portret van Felix de Rooy in ITA, Nederlands Theaterfestival. https://tf.nl/programma/onthulling-portret-van-felix-de-rooy-in-ita/
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (28-8-2023). On Mariku Practices: Disrupting Trans* and Sex in (Caribbean) Scholarship, Tropes, and Readings, NOISE Summer School 2023, Utrecht.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (28-8-2023). NOISE summer school on Queer, Trans, Sexual Archives, Utrecht University Utrecht.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (15-3-2023). The When, how, and Where of Queer Decoloniality?, A World of Decolonisation, Amsterdam. https://dezwijger.nl/programma/a-world-of-decolonisation
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (29-1-2023). New Narratives tour, New Narratives tour, Amsterdam. https://www.amsterdammuseum.nl/events/julian-isenia/65094
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (13-10-2022). Homofobische karikaturen: Curaçaose volkstoneel en antiqueer geweld, Black Achievement Month. https://www.blackachievementmonth.nl/event/homofobische-karikaturen/
    • Peeren, E. (speaker), Isenia, J. (speaker), Stelder, M. (speaker), Yamomo, m. (speaker) & Titus, B. (speaker) (27-11-2021). Activism, Academic Research and Decoloniality, The Future of the Dutch Colonial Past, Amsterdam.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (5-12-2019). IQMF: Who Speaks for Who, IQMF: Who Speaks for Who, Amsterdam. https://www.lab111.nl/movie/iqmf-who-speaks-for-who/
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (15-11-2019). Inclusiviteit en kwesties rondom positionaliteit?: een publieke reactie op het onderzoek 'koloniale en slavernijverleden van Rotterdam' van het KITLV, Kennisproductie (Onderzoek), Inclusiviteit en kwesties rondom Positionaliteit, Rotterdam.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (22-9-2019). The Uselessness of Art Tijdens Kunstroute Leiden, The Uselessness of Art tijdens Kunstroute Leiden, Leiden.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (10-9-2019). Pride History, Pride History, Rotterdam.
    • Isenia, J. (speaker) (16-6-2018). Holland Festival: Stadium - Mohamed El Khatib, Holland Festival: Stadium - Mohamed El Khatib, Amsterdam.

    Others

    • Isenia, J. (participant) & Ostendorf, T. (participant) (9-11-2023 - 11-11-2023). What and when was Caribbean modernism? A symposium, Amsterdam. Arguably, across a range of expression and identity, artistic as well as intellectual, modernism has been a shaping force in the twentieth-century (…) (participating in a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.materialculture.nl/en/events/what-and-when-was-caribbean-modernism-symposium
    • Isenia, J. (participant), Wood, S. (participant), Chalu, M.-J. (participant), Boateng, R. (participant), Flink, U. (participant) & Mochtari, S. (organiser) (6-6-2022). Making Black Archives in Europe, Paris. Making Black Archives in Europe, organised by Kadist (participating in a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXfy-XjMrWQ
    • Isenia, J. (participant), Schields, C. (participant) & Martis, J. (participant) (2022). The politics of sexuality: sexual cultures and regulation in the Dutch Caribbean, Online (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (participant), Schields, C. (participant), Ewing, C. (participant), Jacob, E. (participant), Schaper, U. (participant) & Shields, A. (chair) (2021). Beyond Vanilla History: Global Decolonization and the Routes of Sexual Revolution, Online (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (organiser), Colpani, G. (organiser), Mepschen, P. (chair), van der Scheer, I. (participant), Schields, C. (participant) & Captain, E. (participant) (12-11-2019). Presentation special issue, Amsterdam. Presentation special issue ‘Sexual politics between the Netherlands and the Caribbean: Imperial entanglements and archival desires' (organising a conference, workshop, ...). https://www.ihlia.nl/presentatie-speciale-editie-tijdschrift-voor-genderstudies-imperial-entanglements-and-archival-desires/
    • Isenia, J. (organiser), Sneeuwloper, M. (organiser), Hemelaar, I. (organiser), van den Hoonaard, L. (organiser) & Schram, K. (organiser) (26-10-2019). Queer History Talk, Amsterdam. Queer History Talk: SUHO (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (organiser), van Geel, J. (organiser) & PArnell, R. (chair) (15-8-2019). Zine making workshop with Rae Parnell as part of Nos tei exhibition., Amsterdam. Zine making workshop with Rae Parnell as part of Nos tei exhibition. During this intimate workshop attendees will get the tools to create their own (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (participant) (20-6-2019 - 22-6-2019). 26th International Conference of Europeanists, Madrid (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (organiser), Sneeuwloper, M. (organiser), van den Hoonaard, L. (organiser), Hemelaar, I. (organiser) & Schram, K. (organiser) (3-3-2019). Queer History talks, Amsterdam. Phd candidate Wigbertson Julian Isenia is co-curating a series of talks - Sharing Stories – Queer History Talks - at the Amsterdam Museum. The next (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Bala, S. (organiser) & Isenia, W. G. S. J. (organiser) (3-4-2018 - 6-4-2018). Critical Thinking in Curaçao and the Construction of Forgetting, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (participant) (28-3-2018 - 30-3-2018). 25th International Conference of Europeanists, Chicago. PhD Candidate Wigbertson Julian Isenia will present at the 25th International Conference of Europeanists: Europe and the World: Mobilities, Values (…) (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (participant), Röttger, K. E. (participant) & Zangl, V. (participant) (18-2-2018). Lecture Gender and Sexuality in Curaçaoan Theatre, Amsterdam. The Department of Theatre Studies and the NWO-funded project 'Cultural Practices of Citizenship under conditions of Fragmented Sovereignty: Gendered (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Bala, S. (organiser) & Isenia, W. G. S. J. (organiser) (27-3-2017 - 28-3-2017). Sexual Politics in Colonial Curaçao, Amsterdam (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Isenia, J. (participant) (4-8-2016 - 5-8-2016). Conferentie ‘Proud in Europe?’, Amsterdam (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).

    2022

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  • Ancillary activities
    No ancillary activities