Onder de huid van Zwarte Piet: (Schrik)figuren rond het Sint-Nicolaasfeest in de negentiende eeuw

Translated title of the contribution: Under Black Pete’s skin: Dark figures around the nineteenth-century Feast of Saint Nicholas

I.F. van der Zande, Hanneke Nap, Eelco Kramer, Gonda van den Heuvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Dutch debate surrounding Black Pete (Zwarte Piet) has become deeply polarized. Proponents as well as opponents of the black assistant of Saint Nicholas base their opinions on his assumed origin. While supporters of Black Pete believe that he originated from pre-Christian traditions, the anti-Black Pete camp is convinced he can be traced back to a world of slavery and racism. This article shows that the present figure of Black Pete is a nineteenth-century amalgamation of different types and traditions. This means that Black Pete can not be reduced to a single, unambiguous meaning. Therefore, the answer to the question concerning his identity and his alleged racist character must be found in his reception rather than his origin.
Original languageDutch
Article number4
Pages (from-to)161-187
Number of pages26
JournalDe Moderne Tijd
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2018



  • Zwarte Piet
  • Sinterklaasfeest
  • Identiteit

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