Unique encounters in liberated Limburg: A research on the interactions between African American soldiers and Dutch women in the liberation period, 1944-1945
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This research focuses on the encounters between African American soldiers and Dutch women in the liberation period in the province Limburg in the Netherlands. By exploring a wide variety of primary sources, this thesis identified an absence in government discussions about the presence of African American soldiers in the Netherlands. This absence attributed to the disremembering of the presence of these soldiers in the aftermath of the war. Additionally, this thesis argues that the claim that all liberators were treated or regarded equally in the Netherlands can be criticised. This research uses the concept of the Carnivalesque, as introduced by Mikhail Bakhtin to explain what circumstances facilitated the contacts between African American soldiers and Dutch women, and what made them possible for a particular time period. The issues of ‘race relations,’ ‘inter-racial’ encounters and gender relationships are approached through the methodology of Critical Discourse Analysis and placed within the framework of transfer history. After giving an overview of the context in which these associations took place, a close reading analysis of Limburg newspapers demonstrates that patronising language and the discursive construction of African American soldiers as ‘other’ were present in newspaper articles on African American soldiers. Therefore, this thesis indicates that present racial images about black people in the Netherlands affected the treatment of and interactions with African American soldiers in the liberated south in 1944-1945. However, this research concludes that these racial images did not have a profound impact on the moral panic that erupted almost simultaneously with the arrival of the American army in Limburg. Instead, this moral panic was directed to foreign soldiers in general. The last chapter examines the legacies of these encounters, with a special focus on the children that were born to African American soldiers and Dutch women. This thesis shows that in contrast to other European countries, no government or public debates took place about the existence and upbringing of these children.