‘In Holland staat een huis’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 53, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1876-9071
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5729



This article looks into the representation of Polish immigrants in recent Dutch feature films (1997-2012), with a particular focus on the prominent role of domestic settings and familial dysfunctions in the pictures involved. As the analysis reveals, many of the films under discussion bring into view troubled Dutch protagonists (especially men) who suffer from degradation in the familial and social sphere. The Polish characters in turn tend to be instrumentalized as (potential) agents of change (or rather ‘restoration’), taking up traditional familial and domestic roles that are no longer fulfilled by Dutch characters.

While the narrative function granted to Polish immigrants in Dutch film can be closely linked to the widespread perception of Poland (and East Central Europe at large) as less ‘modern’ (than the West) as well as to the physical, strongly gender-typed labor usually performed by these jobseekers, the Dutch treatment of Polish characters remains largely in line with the screen portrait of expatriate Poles in other European cinemas (i.e., ‘noble’ rather than ‘savage’). In the meanwhile, however, with its particular focus on (declining) ‘domesticity’ in Dutch private and public spaces, the corpus of films under discussion points to the contradictory feelings of nostalgia underlying the treatment of migration in Dutch representational practices: while some films expose the longing for the preservation of a monolithic Dutch ‘home’ unaffected by immigrants, other productions instrumentalize the influx of foreigners as a means to reinstall a sense of (female) domesticity into the center of the Dutch family.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): domesticity; Dutch film; Polish immigrants; representation
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