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URPP Human Reproduction Reloaded | H2R

Brown Bag Lunch with Prof. Dr. Bregje Dijksterhuis

The URPP Human Reproduction Reloaded | H2R has the pleasure of inviting you to the brown bag lunch talk “Cutting of family ties in the context of the colonization of the Dutch (East) Indies” by Prof. Dr. Bregje Dijksterhuis

The event will be held in person at the University of Zurich on Thursday, 26 September 2024, from 12.15-13.45 am. It will be chaired by Prof. Elisabetta Fiocchi.

The talk will take place in room TBA. If interested in attending, please fill in the form below.

Dr. B.M. Dijksterhuis is an assistant professor of family law at the University of Amsterdam. She specialises in family law and socio-legal studies. In particular, her research is focused on three subjects: (1) the financial consequences of divorces in relation to maintenance payments and property law; (2) the role of legal guardians for those who lack legal and financial capacity; (3) the Dutch colonial past (mainly the Dutch East Indies) and the cutting of family ties with regard to unwed mothers who were forced to give their babies away in the 1950s and 1980s. The question of how to repair or compensate for these broken family ties is a central part of Dijksterhuis’ research.

About the talk

The socio-legal research in the field of family law focuses on the cutting of family ties in the context of Dutch colonial history which began in the 17th century and lasted until the 19th century. The aim of Dijksterhuis’ lecture is threefold. Firstly, to delve into the scope and impact of the cutting of family ties related to the colonial past. Secondly, to analyse to what extent the cutting of family ties gives rise to recognition and compensation payments. Thirdly, to scrutinise how much these family ties might be restored/repaired. All these questions will be looked at from the perspective of family law and socio-legal perspectives. The relationship between migration, mobility, and borders will also be elaborated on.

Dijksterhuis’ lecture will specifically explore the case of the so-called Njais and their descendants in the Dutch East Indies or present-day Indonesia. The VOC (Dutch East Indies Company) settled in Asia in 1602. Local women became the concubines of Dutch men in Indonesia and were both the men’s housekeepers and their sexual (and romantic) partners, which often led to children being born. The local women were called Njai and were usually not permitted to marry. The lecture will delve into (legal) parentage (i.e. the question of whether there was a legal acknowledgement), what happened to the Njai and their descendants, and what this meant for the right to know one’s origins (i.e. identity) and the maintenance of family ties. Of course, these topics will be explored in the context of huge power imbalances and discrimination.


To participate in the event, we kindly ask you to register.
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Please let us know about any dietary restrictions (vegan / vegetarian /...).