What we don’t see; The Side Wings of Slavery & Colonialism

Lectures on Slavery in the former Dutch Colonies, and its Aftermath

Slavery Monument Amsterdam


Coordination: Prof. Dr. Michiel van Kempen;

Drs Reggie Baay, Dr Aminata Cairo, Mr Mitchell Esajas, Dr Wayne Modest, Dr Ellen Neslo, Dr Valika Smeulders


Students should be able to:

  • formulate a creative research question opening up posibilities for exploring fields hitherto not really good dealt with.
  • identify the complex relations between slavery, colonialism and Dutch society and explain how the machinery works by giving clear examples

Course description

This lecture series brings together different, less exposed  themes on Dutch slavery and colonialism. The course intends to educate students about more than the general perception of slavery and colonialism.

Slavery in the former Dutch colonies is often discussed with reference to an overall picture about Trans-Atlantic slavery. The focus of this course is about what we don’t know, but should know about slavery. Why is it that the Dutch East Indies were long neglected when it comes to slavery, while numerically it is comparable with slavery in the Caribbean? How did Africans who were dragged to the New World in slave shackles, still achieved success in their lives? What was the significance of art and cultural expressions like dance in colonial times? Which traces of slavery are still visible in modern socieity? These are all questions that will be adressed.


Topics that will be discussed include:

  • Do 15 Nov Reggie Baay – Slavery in the East
  • Do 22 Nov Aminata Cairo – Dance & slavery
  • Do 29 Nov Mitchell Esajas – Traces of slavery in the modern Dutch society
  • Do  6 dec Wayne Modest – Slavery & material culture
  • Do 13 dec Ellen Neslo – The coloured elite in colonial Suriname 1800-1863
  • Do 20 dec Valika Smeulders – Slavery; heritage in Ghana & Curaçao

The final lecture will be formed by a final debate with a panel; Nyanga Weder with a personal note on what slavery means to her as a young black Surinamese woman, born and raised in the Netherlands. Other participants: Francio Guadeloupe, Mitchell Esajas and Surya Nahumury with roots in the Eastern and Western Indies. Members of the panel will answer questions asked/submitted by the students.

Study materials

A reader or online and print texts will be available.


Assessment will be based on a final paper which will be published on http://werkgroepcaraibischeletteren.nl/


Check Datanose for the exact information.


Check the website.


UvA-students can register themself from June 14 (look for code 5512SLAV3Y in SIS) until a week before the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering please contact: Keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl 

Other parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions, interested can register from June 14 through the registration form.

Language of instruction
Starts in

Published by  Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies