You are here

Nicolaas P. Barr

Director of Study Abroad; Part-Time Lecturer

Contact Information

PDL B101
Office Hours: 
T, 9:30-10:30, W, 1:00-2:00 and by appointment


Ph.D., History, UC Berkeley
B.A., History/Comparative History of Ideas, University of Washington

I am a CHID graduate and received my PhD in History from UC Berkeley. I work with faculty on CHID's study abroad programs and teach for CHID, History, and Jewish Studies.

In Minima Moralia, Theodor W. Adorno cites F. H. Bradley: "Where everything is bad, it must be good to know the worst." My research and teaching interests are driven by the question of how human thought can make sense of, and respond to, forms of domination, especially as exemplified in the Holocaust and its legacies, about which I've written some personal reflections. I believe that by studying how past figures articulated their concerns in relation to specific historical contexts, their seemingly abstract and culturally limited ideas can become charged with what Edward W. Said called a "contrapuntal" force or contemporary resonance. Although my intellectual history course is described as an introduction to Western thought, it is not a triumphalist survey of "great ideas"—nor do I consider "European" to be synonymous with "white." My study abroad program in Amsterdam is concerned precisely with how senses of Dutch identity are being negotiated and fashioned by Dutch people of color amidst the supposed crisis of normative (white) Dutch national identity and "tolerant" values.

I have been a guest on The Stranger's podcast "Blabbermouth" to discuss such political terms as anarchy, progressive, and neoliberal; a panelist on Humanities Washington's "Think & Drink" event on populism; and I've written on Dutch racism in The Nation. I'm an editor for H-Ideas and H-Low Countries and a trombonist in the Mexican band Banda Vagos.


Courses Taught

Additional Courses

Pacific Lutheran University:
Writing 101, "Music in the Polis"
History of the Holocaust

Study Abroad Programs

Related News


Professional Affiliations: 
American Historical Association, Koninklijk Nederlands Historisch Genootschap