Naauekeurige Plattegrond
THE project

State and Slavery details how the Dutch state and its predecessors were involved in colonial slavery. It describes how different stakeholders, such as enslaved people, administrators, and entrepreneurs in the Dutch Republic and in colonized societies responded to slavery. 

Koopman en een tot slaaf gemaakte bediende, anoniem, ca. 1750   ca. 1799
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BK 1969 102 A

Start of the project

The project was launched on 1 October 2022. Its dual aim is to explore current research into the Dutch colonial slavery past and the latter’s impact on contemporary societies through the publication of State and Slavery and, additionally, to draft an agenda for future research into Dutch slavery practices. The project has been commissioned by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), as a direct result of a motion filed by Dutch parliamentary Don Ceder. The motion asks the Dutch government to present the results of independent national research into the history of slavery and into "what took place at the time of slavery, on behalf of whom and how” before the end of 2023.

Jaspar Beckx   Don Miguel de Castro, Emissary of Kongo

Jasper Beckx, portrait of Dom Miguel de Castro, an Angolan  envoy, ca. 1641 -1645, Rijksstudio

The main research theme is the role played by the Dutch state and society in the Dutch colonial slavery past and its socioeconomic, political, and social conditions. The book will historiographically embed the already existing knowledge on the subject, evaluate how this knowledge came about and describe potential ways to proceed in future. Central questions are: How were (precursors) of the Dutch state involved in the colonial slavery past? What are the afterlives of this past both in the colonized societies and in the Netherlands? How have various stakeholders, such as enslaved people, administrators, and entrepreneurs in the colonized societies responded to slavery? And how can we now create space for recovery and healing from this past?

A geographical and temporal broadening

State and Slavery speaks of colonial slavery, rather than slavery, referring to the forms of slavery that emerged from European colonial expansion from the fifteenth century up until the end of the nineteenth century. The impact Dutch slavery has had on the world and the people in it already started at the earliest enslavement of people in Africa, was intensified during the slavery period, and continued to affect people’s lives thereafter. Thus, colonial slavery has had a major impact on politics, economics, culture, and society. To comprehend the extent of this impact, State and slavery looks at both the period of slavery and slave trade, and its abolition and afterlives in our contemporary society. By exploring such a major time period, State and Slavery manages to also explore other forms of forced labour and exploitation that existed during and after slavery. The book will additionally address former colonized areas in both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean and thereby provide some insights into the differences, similarities, and connections between these areas.

Editorial board 
RMA betere resolutie

Rose Mary Allen

Anthropologist and professor by special appointment of Culture, Community and History at the University of Curaçao.

Esther Captain

Esther Captain

Historian and senior researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) in Leiden.

Matthias van Rossum

Matthias van Rossum

Hisotrian and senior researcher at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam. 

Urwin Vyent

Urwin C. Vyent

Director of the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy

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