Westermann Reflection 2

The image I’m choosing an analyze is: Nineteenth-century joke. Leonard de Vries, Humoristich album van ben 19den eeuw. This photo articulates a joke a white son makes to his mother in which he says, “Hey! I wish I was just as black as that Negro there. Why is that my child? Well then I would never have to wash.” (76) From what I understand Blakely is using the image to help put imagery to a joke that was commonplace, and clearly very racially derogatory. Blakely is analyzing this through the lens of Dutch culture, more specially the norms of society during this time, and using them as examples to further reinforce her idea of how the Dutch world treated Black people. Blakey argues that the existence of jokes such as these further pushes the idea of the Dutch  “toying with the image of blacks,” (77) and she continues this argue that other parts of Dutch culture that were racially unfair, such as how they were portrayed in a culinary aspect. 

On the other hand, I believe Westermann would’ve viewed this as a picture which represented the history of Dutch culture. Potentially analyzing objects such as the articles of clothing being worn by all three figures pictured, and maybe a historical account of whether the clothes being worn denoted a certain level of class. Given the nature of the joke, and the fact that there was intense segregation at that time, there is a high chance of black people only having access to certain pieces/types of clothing. Furthermore, analyzing the way in which the painting was drawn, with a clearly distinct physical difference between the two white people and the black person, and historically where these distinctions in art came from. Finally, breaking down where jokes such as these fit into Dutch society, and the roots of such jokes. There may not be any at all, but multiple times there is mention of inspiration from other countries/peoples, ie. The Jews, Rome, so I believe Westermann would consider the history of such jokes, as well as the aforementioned parts of the painting. 

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One thought on “Westermann Reflection 2

  1. Attending to historical references in the images is indeed important to much of W’s analysis. Both she and Blakely also pay attention to the broader European strains of Dutch culture (esp. some of the racists and anti-Semitic ideas, which moved among European nations and cultures).

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