Dr Ulrike Mueller (U.A.)

I am Senior Lecturer at University College Maastricht and a US-trained sociologist with a focus on how hierarchies of power affect subjectivity formation. My area of expertise is critical whiteness and critical race theory. I am particularly interested in how systems of privilege, more specifically whiteness and nationality, affect people and how they live their lives. In my current research, I focus on epistemologies of ignorance and how certain ways of (not) knowing result in the maintenance and reproduction of racisms. In my study on the Dutch Black Pete controversy, I argue that a set of local practices or, what I call “doing ignorance,” has prevented people from seeing the racist undertones of the tradition for decades.

I am also an active member of Phoenix e.V., an anti-racism organization in Germany, where we grapple with everyday and structural racism and how this affects the lives of white, Black and people of color and our ways of being with each other. In 2017 and 2019, I have brought Phoenix to Maastricht University to give anti-racism as well as empowerment trainings. The empowerment training for people of color was made possible by a Maastricht University diversity and inclusivity grant.

I have been teaching at University College Maastricht since 2004 in the area of gender and post-colonial studies, sociological theory, ethnography, qualitative methodology and lately, African studies. My signature courses are “Identities” and “Ethnography and Qualitative Interviewing.” Since the spring of 2022, I also teach a new skills training entitled “Gaining Racial Literacy.” Early formative experiences at the intersection of oppression and structural privilege have been shaping my academic work in significant ways. Although I grew up in Southwestern Germany, I came to Maastricht University in a roundabout way via the US. What was going to be a cultural exchange of one year in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina turned into a stay that lasted over a decade. My years as a student at US-American universities culminated in a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and have significantly shaped my perspectives on teaching as well as the way I teach. It was in the US when I first came in touch with what is referred to as social justice education. Simply put, social justice education involves a commitment to challenge race, class, gender inequalities and to raise an awareness of our complicity in their reproduction.  As a white, Western woman and first-generation academic, I deeply believe that any sort of structural societal change can ultimately, only come about via self-focus. Only by understanding our own involvement in racism, sexism, classism and heteronormativity can we affect their transformations. In my free time, I dance and write poems. What keeps me going is my passion for teaching and my engagement with conscious dance practices.