PhD Candidate: Liberation Children of Colour – The Centre for Gender and Diversity (Maastricht University)

The Centre for Gender and Diversity of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS), Maastricht University, is scouting for an ambitious young researcher who is interested in entering into the Dutch national competition Promoveren in de Geesteswetenschappen (PhD’s in the Humanities, a program of the Dutch Science Foundation, NWO). The candidate will be coached by professors Lies Wesseling, Angélique Janssens and Leonie Cornips of FASoS in developing a competitive PhD proposal for the research project Liberation Children of Color. In addition, we will also enlist the services of an external expert on the topic, Mieke Kirkels, author of Van Alabama naar Margraten: Herinneringen van grafdelver Jefferson Wiggens (From Alabama to Margraten: Memories of Gravedigger Jefferson Wiggens) (

PhD Project: Liberation Children of Colour

It is a well-known fact that the southern parts of the German-occupied Netherlands were liberated by American soldiers in the fall of 1944, while the Northern parts were liberated half a year later by Canadian soldiers. It is also well known that quite a few soldiers entered into amourous liaisons with Dutch women, with the so-called “liberation children” as predictable result. However, what is hardly known at all is that the American forces also included African-American service troops, some of whom fathered “liberation children of color”. The history of these children (there are about a hundred of them) and their parents still needs to be written. Because African-American soldiers hardly left any traces behind in the documents, since they did not fight at the front, while the whole problematic of liberation children was covered up by shame and taboo, this necessarily needs to be done through oral history. While “Germany’s Brown Babies” have received some attention in recent publications, because they were nearly all of them exported to the United States, to be given in adoption to African-American families, we know next to nothing about the ‘brown babies’ of the Netherlands. There is some urgency to this project, because these liberation children are now approaching 70, and may not all live to tell, while these people deserve their due place in the annals of history and practices of cultural remembrance focusing on World War II.


We are looking for a candidate with the following characteristics:

  • A completed Research Master (Mphil)
  • High grade point average (around 8), the grade of the MA thesis is of particular importance
  • Demonstrable writing skills
  • Aspires towards a career in science
  • Preferably: active and passive control of the Dutch language
  • A degree in history, cultural anthropology or cultural studies
  • Some experience with oral history projects is highly appreciated, though not strictly necessary
  • Publications (whether of a scholarly or journalistic nature) will certainly help
  • Persons of color will receive special consideration

Contact and information

If you are interested, please contact prof. Wesseling ( before December 1, 2015.