K. van der Ham MA

PhD Candidate
Worship / formation

The role of churches and Christianity in racism in the Netherlands – one of the most urgent topics at the moment – is underexposed, even though churches have been called to fight for a just society, mediating good life. The proposed project aims to gain a better understanding of experiences of and views on racism in Dutch society of church members, and to explore how polarization of the public debate regarding racism can be reduced. In researching this, the project intends to uncover the entanglement of Christianity with contemporary racial ideologies as a result of the transgenerational reproduction of cultural identity and a history of enslavement and colonialism.

Thus far, research on racism in the Netherlands has given little attention to the influence of the Christian tradition on contemporary racist reflexes. The central question of the project is therefore: 

How can lived experiences of and views on racism and white supremacy among church members and the pertaining polarization be addressed in the context of the entanglement of Christianity with contemporary racial ideologies in the Netherlands? 

This collaborative practical theological research project is inspired by liberation hermeneutics. It takes a case study of bible study groups with members of international churches and the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PCN). Contextual Bible Study (CBS) and Intercultural Bible Reading (IBR) facilitate a collective reflection and constructive interaction on conflicting experiences and views regarding racism and white supremacy in contemporary churches and Dutch society, in combination with a reflection on the Christian theological concepts involved. 

This interdisciplinary research project will hereby aim to contribute to respond to one of the most urgent and complex challenges for church and society today: how do we respond to racism, with due regard for our own (historical) role in maintaining racist structures in society?