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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.

How to contribute

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

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.

Please submit working papers by emailing the tekst as .doc .docx .odt (not PDF!) to

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)

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.

Basiton Editions

Volume 1, Issue 1 (April 2020)

slaverny, manumission, wills, community formation, Suriname

This first collection of three working papers presents original findings from the written records of colonial administrations in the Dutch Indies and Suriname.

All three papers strive to better understand slavery in Dutch colonies, both in terms of its legal contours, as well as its racial and gendered dynamics.

Taken together, these working papers show that manumission was a deeply paradoxical phenomenon in Dutch colonial slave societies. The act of manumitting a slave underlined the power of the owner class, while simultaneously complicating the racial order between white enslavers and people racialized as black being enslaved.

Volume 1, Issue 2 (Augustus 2020)

A new approach to the history of slavery in Curaçao

Historia di sklabitut di Kòrsou na un manera nobo

Translation in Papiamentu by Nathifa Martina

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.

A translation in Papiamentu is available for download.