Basiton: Working Papers on Slavery and its Afterlives

Research into the Dutch history of slavery and its afterlives is developing rapidly, but the possibilities to present research are limited. To enable more possibilities for feedback and interaction Basiton offers the possibility to present tentative results. 

Adyáko Benti Basiton, also known under his slave name Boston, arrived in Suriname from Jamaica. In Suriname he joined a revolt against slave holders and their armed forces. Determined to consolidate their victories, Basiton began to write letters to negotiate peace. The letters are level-headed, to the point and uncorrupted by formalities and mannerisms. They are aimed at provoking a response from the recipient, who he regarded as an equal. In that spirit the Working Papers on Slavery and its Afterlives aim to offer a platform for scholarly discussion on the slavery past and its afterlives.

Download and read Volume 1, Issue 1 - April 2020 (PDF)

> Download and read Volume 1, Issue 2 - August 2020 (PDF)

> PAPIAMENTU: Download and read Volume 1, Issue 2 - August 2020 (PDF)

Over Basiton: uitleg en info voor bijdragen (Nederlands)

Waarom?

Het onderzoek naar het Nederlandse slavernijverleden en de erfenis daarvan groeit snel. Tegelijkertijd zijn de mogelijkheden om laagdrempelig onderzoek te presenteren beperkt. Om de gemeenschap van onderzoekers betere mogelijkheden tot interactie te geven biedt Basiton de mogelijkheid om voorlopige resultaten te publiceren. 

Adyáko Benti Basiton, droeg nog de slavennaam Boston toen hij van Jamaica naar Suriname kwam. In Suriname sloot hij zich aan bij een opstand tegen de slavenhouders en hun leger. Om de overwinningen van de opstand te consolideren begon Basiton brieven te schrijven die moesten leiden tot vrede. De brieven zijn nuchter, doeltreffend en zonder omhaal en formaliteiten geschreven. Ze waren er op gericht om op gelijke voet een correspondentie op gang te brengen. In de geest van deze brieven wil Basiton: Working Papers on Slavery and its Afterlives een platform bieden aan wetenschappelijke discussie over het Nederlands slavernijverleden en de doorwerking daarvan.

Wie?

Een ieder die bevindingen en inzichten wil delen over het Nederlandse slavernijverleden en de doorwerking daarvan. Er zijn geen beperkingen zoals financiële auteursbijdragen of taaleisen.

Wat?

Bijdragen zijn een weerslag van oorspronkelijk onderzoek en gericht op het ontlokken van opbouwend commentaar. Dit kunnen tentatieve resultaten zijn of afgeronde artikelen. De stukken zullen gebundeld digitaal verschijnen. Een jaarlijks bibliografisch overzicht en een nieuwsbrief moeten bijdragen aan het informeren van de gemeenschap van onderzoekers.

De bijdragen worden niet beperkt in lengte, maar zullen naar alle waarschijnlijkheid tussen de 3500 en 12000 woorden zijn. Deugdelijke annotatie doormiddel van voetnoten of eindnoten zijn een vereiste, maar mogen in de stijl die gebruikelijk is in de discipline van de auteur. De redactie besluit over het opnemen van bijdragen. Auteurs behouden het volledige recht over hun bijdrage en staan vrij om gepubliceerde bijdragen te hergebruiken voor andere publicaties. De blijvende digitale beschikbaarheid van de working papers kan niet worden gegarandeerd.

Hoe?

Bijdragen emailen als .doc, .docx of .odt (geen PDF!) naar k.j.fatah@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Het document bestaat uit

  • Titel
  • Naam van de auteur
  • Emailadres van de auteur
  • Abstract of samenvatting (max. 300 woorden)
  • Keywords (vijf)
  • Hoofdtekst (meestal tussen de 3.500 en 12.000 woorden)
  • Biografie van de auteur (max 200 woorden)

 

About Basiton: info and submission guidelines (English)

Why?

Research into the Dutch history of slavery and its afterlives is developing rapidly, but the possibilities to present research are limited. To enable more possibilities for feedback and interaction Basiton offers the possibility to present tentative results. 

Adyáko Benti Basiton, also known under his slave name Boston, arrived in Suriname from Jamaica. In Suriname he joined a revolt against slave holders and their armed forces. Determined to consolidate their victories, Basiton began to write letters to negotiate peace. The letters are level-headed, to the point and uncorrupted by formalities and mannerisms. They are aimed at provoking a response from the recipient, who he regarded as an equal. In that spirit the Working Papers on Slavery and its Afterlives aim to offer a platform for scholarly discussion on the slavery past and its afterlives.

Who?

All those who wish to share their insights and findings in the Dutch history of slavery and its afterlives. There are no author fees or language requirements.

What?

Working Papers are original works aimed at soliciting feedback from peers. They can range from tentative explorations to polished pieces. An annual bibliographic supplement and newsletter will keep the research community informed.

Working papers are not limited in length, but will typically range from 3500 to 12000 words. Annotations and references can be done according to any preferred style – typically in the style most used in the discipline of the author. The editorial board decides on including articles. Authors retain full ownership of their work and are free to re-use their published working papers in other outlets. The continued availability of working papers cannot be guaranteed.

How?

Please submit working papers by emailing the tekst as .doc .docx .odt (not PDF!) to k.j.fatah@hum.leidenuniv.nl

The document needs to consist of

  • Titel
  • Author name
  • E-mail address where author can be reached
  • Abstract or summary (max. 300 words)
  • Keywords ( five)
  • Main text (typically between 3500 and 12000 words)
  • Biographical note on the author (max. 200 words)

Het netwerk van Slavernijwetenschappers

(Nederlands) Informatie over nieuwe publicaties en wetenschappelijke congressen

Het netwerk van slavernijwetenschappers brengt kennis en inzichten uit verschillende disciplines samen. De geschiedenis van slavernij, de afschaffing en de doorwerking vragen om onderzoek en reflectie. De huidige inzet van universiteiten en onderzoeksinstellingen voorziet nog onvoldoende in de maatschappelijke behoefte. Daarnaast is er nog onvoldoende waardering en erkenning voor Afro-Caribische onderzoekers. Het netwerk streeft naar het vaststellen van een meerjarige onderzoeksagenda. Via de website delen we zowel Nederlands- als Engelstalige informatie over nieuwe publicaties en wetenschappelijke congressen.

 

(English) Information about new publications and academic conferences

The network of slavery scientists aims to connect knowledge and insights from different disciplines. The history of slavery, its abolition and its effects require research and reflection. The current efforts of universities and research institutions do not yet sufficiently meet the social need. In addition, there is still insufficient appreciation and recognition for Afro-Caribbean researchers. The network aims to establish a multi-year research agenda. Via the website we share both Dutch and English information about new publications and scientific conferences.

 

 

Artikelen / Abstracts

Slavery at the Court of the ‘Humanist Prince’ Reexamining Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen and his Role in Slavery, Slave Trade and Slave-smuggling in Dutch Brazil
Carolina Monteiro, Erik Odegard

Abstract
From 1630 until its fall in 1654, the Dutch West India Company maintained a colony in northeastern Brazil where it tried to profit from the cultivation of sugar using enslaved African labor. Count Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen served as this colony’s governor-general from 1636 until 1644, this being the most heavily studied period of the colony’s existence. But the role of Johan Maurits in the transatlantic slave trade and enslavement in Brazil is poorly covered by research, with some historians recently arguing that there is ‘no proof’ of any personal involvement. This article presents a clear argument for the personal involvement of Johan Maurits in the slave trade and shows his involvement in slave-smuggling. Understanding the social relations between the count, his court and the Luso-Brazilian elite is in fact simply impossible without bringing in the trade and smuggling of enslaved Africans.

Keywords: Dutch Brazil; Dutch West India Company (win); Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen; slave trade; smuggling; Dutch Atlantic

>>Read article 

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The use of wills in community formation by former slaves in Suriname, 1750–1775
Karwan Fatah-Black

Abstract
This article investigates how the manumitted in Suriname used wills and testaments to construct their social worlds. Wills enabled the manumitted to transmit their possessions and instructed those who survived them how to care for each other. Historians have made different assessments of the community of freedmen in Suriname, either seeing an anti-slavery solidarity among them or a vicious use of the institution of slavery even with regard to close kin. By closely reading the entire corpus of wills drawn up by manumitted people between 1750 and 1775, this article traces what these people tried to dispose of, how they did so and the effects of their wills.

Keywords: slavery, manumission, wills, community formation, Suriname

>>Read article 

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The Black Archives: Exploring the Politics of Black Dutch Radicals
Mitchell Esajas and  Jessica de Abreu

Abstract
In this article, the authors introduce “The Black Archives”—an alternative archive consisting of more than 8,000 books, official documents and artefacts. The archive is a critical intervention, challenging dominant historical narratives, which tend to downplay histories of colonialism, slavery and their legacy. The authors explore how archival research and art can be used to make visible the histories that have been marginalized in dominant historical narratives. This is done with a case study: an exhibition based on archival research on two Black radicals, Hermina and Otto Huiswoud. The research reveals the history of the black and Surinamese activism in the Netherlands which intersects with global histories of the black radicalism.

Keywords: alternative  archives,  black  radicalism,  Surinam,  Netherlands,  black  art,  slavery,  heritage,  activism

>>Read article (PDF)

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The Insurance of Mass Murder: The Development of Slave Life Insurance Policies of Dutch Private Slave Ships, 1720–1780
Karin Lurvink

Abstract
Insurance on slaves, a financial spin-off effect of the slave trade, is not yet completely understood. This article investigates the development of the conditions of this kind of insurance in the Dutch Republic, Europe’s most important insurance sector before 1780. By analyzing various historical insurance documents from the period 1720–1780, it reveals that slave life insurance conditions became increasingly specific and standardized due to developments in general marine insurance and insurance debates on bloodily oppressed slave insurrections. This article shows how enslaved Africans indirectly influenced the insurance conditions by protesting, while insurers might have financially motivated the murder of enslaved Africans who attempted to escape. These findings provide insights into how Dutch insurers dealt with insuring humans with agency as commodities without agency and how slavery and the financial world in the eighteenth century were connected.

>>Read article

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Underwriting slavery: insurance and slavery in the Dutch Republic (1718–1778)
Karin Lurvink

Abstract
This article shows that slavery was more connected to Dutch society and economy than has been previously assumed. It does so by investigating the people involved in Dutch slavery insurance in the period 1718–1734, when the Dutch slave trade was monopolized by the state-chartered West India Company (WIC) and the period 1763–1778, when the private slave trade reached its peak and slavery insurance was more common. This article analyzes a variety of primary sources that have not been studied in this light before. The analysis shows that a large and varied group was involved and that slavery insurance was not a regional institution that only affected the Dutch colonies.

>>Read article

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Between the Plantation and the Port: Racialization and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Paramaribo
Pepijn Brandon

Abstract
Starting from an incident in the colonial port city of Paramaribo in the autumn of 1750 in which, according to the Dutch governor Mauricius, many of the proper barriers separating rich and poor, men and women, adults and children, white citizens and black slaves were crossed, this article traces some of the complexities of everyday social control in colonial Suriname. As gateways for the trade in commodities and the movement of people, meeting points for free and unfree labourers, and administrative centres for emerging colonial settlements, early modern port cities became focal points for policing interaction across racial and social boundaries. Much of the literature on the relationship between slavery and race focuses on the plantation as “race-making institution” and the planter class as the immediate progenitors of “racial capitalism”. Studies of urban slavery, on the other hand, have emphasized the greater possibilities of social contact between blacks, mestizos, and whites of various social status in the bustling port cities of the Atlantic. This article attempts to understand practices of racialization and control in the port city of Paramaribo not by contrasting the city with its plantation environment, but by underlining the connections between the two social settings that together shaped colonial geography. The article focuses on everyday activities in Paramaribo (dancing, working, drinking, arguing) that reveal the extent of contact between slaves and non-slaves. The imposition of racialized forms of repression that set one group against the other, frequently understood primarily as a means to justify the apparent stasis of the plantation system with its rigid internal divisions, in practice often functioned precisely to fight the pernicious effects of mobility in mixed social contexts.

> >Read article (PDF)

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De betekenis van de Atlantische slavernij voor de Nederlandse economie in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw
Pepijn Brandon & Ulbe Bosma

Abstract
Dit artikel presenteert de eerste methodologisch onderbouwde berekening van het gewicht van op Atlantische slavernij gebaseerde activiteiten in de Nederlandse economie in de tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw. De Nederlandse Republiek was in deze periode één van de meest ontwikkelde commerciële samenlevingen in Europa. In deze economie speelde de import, verwerking en export van door slaven geproduceerde artikelen zoals suiker, koffie en tabak een belangrijke rol. Maar liefst 5,2 procent van het Nederlandse Bruto Binnenlands Product, en zelfs 10,36 procent van het BBP van Nederlands rijkste provincie Holland, was in 1770 op slavernij gebaseerd. In de onderzochte periode bestond de Nederlandse handel voor 19 procent uit producten die geteeld werden door slaven in het Atlantische gebied. De genoemde hoge percentages waren het gevolg van de vooraanstaande rol die Nederland – en Holland in het bijzonder – speelde in de distributieketen van door slaven geproduceerde goederen. Deze keten liep vanaf de bevoorrading van slavenschepen in Nederland, via de slavenhandel, de plantages, het vervoer van tropische producten naar Europa en de verwerking ervan in Nederland, tot aan de export naar het Europese achterland. Deze keten verbond Nederland niet alleen met Nederlandse koloniën zoals Suriname maar ook met andere plantagekoloniën zoals de Franse kolonie Saint Domingue.

In totaal representeert de enorme stroom door slaven geproduceerde koffie, suiker en tabak ongeveer 120.000 mensjaren aan gedwongen werk op plantages in de Atlantische wereld. Dit in een tijd waarin de beroepsbevolking in Nederland zelf niet groter was dan een miljoen mensen. De groei van deze handel opende de Rijnhandel met het Duitse achterland en ondersteunde Holland in een economisch moeilijke tweede helft van de achttiende eeuw. Daarnaast profiteerden ook de scheepsbouw en de verwerkingsindustrie. Maar liefst 40 procent van de totale groei van de economie van de provincie Holland in deze periode was terug te voeren tot de slavernij.

>>Lees artikel

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Osteobiography: a window on post-emancipation Curaçao
Felicia J. Fricke and Jason E. Laffoon

Osteobiographical approaches use a range of data sources to generate detailed interpretations of isolated skeletons. Here, osteological, archaeological, oral historical, historical and isotopic sources contribute to the development of life narratives for two adult males of African and Amerindian ancestry. They were buried at Veeris Plantation, Curaçao, towards the end of the nineteenth century. During this period, the restrictive paga tera labor system was still widespread. Introduced in 1863 when slavery was abolished, this system required formerly enslaved people to continue working for free in order to pay for the land they lived on. It was accompanied by laws against idleness and vagrancy that accomplished similar ends in the public sector.

The skeletons provide evidence of hardship throughout the life course, including childhood stress, hard labor during adolescence and interpersonal violence in adulthood. These studies have increased our understanding of the challenges faced by the Curaçaoan population during the post-emancipation period and have situated the effects of oppressive labor and legal systems in real bodies. As such they can play an important role in the deconstruction of colonial narratives dismissing the lasting effects of structural inequality.

Keywords: Curaçao, osteobiography, paga tera, slavery, life history

>>Read article

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Delayed physical development in a first generation enslaved African woman from Pietermaai, Curaçao
Felicia Fricke, Jason Laffoon, Amy Victorina, Jay Haviser

Abstract
There is still much to be learned about enslavement in Curaçao, where little archaeological investigation into the historical era has been carried out. This article contributes to our knowledge on this subject through the analysis of a female individual buried in Pietermaai, an 18th century suburb of Willemstad. Excavated in the 1980s by the Archaeological‐Anthropological Institute of the Netherlands Antilles, the remains are only now attracting osteological attention. Isotopic analysis has shown that this individual spent her childhood in West Africa, supporting morphological and metric analyses identifying her African ancestry. At the time of death, she had an adult chronological age (over 18 years), but her physical development indicated a non‐adult biological age (possibly between 12 and 15 years). Such delayed development can occur due to many factors, including hard labour and disease. In the case of this individual, evidence such as enamel hypoplasia, osteochondritis dissecans, and periostitis may indicate stressful episodes throughout the life course. Clearly defined entheses and entheseal changes at muscle attachment sites on the arms and legs may indicate a physically demanding occupation. A variety of factors could therefore have contributed to her developmental delay. In the future, further analysis of buried populations in Curaçao will help to increase our understanding of the lifeways of enslaved people here. Meanwhile, the analysis of this isolated individual is important because it situates enslavement in a real body and indicates the value of reanalysis of human remains from existing archaeological collections in the Caribbean.

>>Read article