Naauekeurige Plattegrond
THE project

In July 2021 Dutch parliamentarian Don Ceder and fellow members of Parliament filed a motion demanding an independent national investigation before the end of 2023 into "what took place [in the Netherlands] at the time of slavery, on behalf of whom and how.” State and slaver is a response to that motion. 

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

Development of the project

The project was launched on 1 October 2022. Its dual aim is to create an historiographical evaluation of the knowledge on the Dutch slavery past and its afterlives and to draft an agenda for future research into the subject. 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 book publication State and Slavery is published on 15 June 2023. It 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. The book furthermore evaluates how this history has been studied and described and explores potential future research topics. 

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 agenda for future research follows in the spring of 2024. It builds on the publication. It details possible research avenues for the period 2024 to 2034.  The publications are relevant to both Dutch society and the Dutch Caribbean islands, Suriname and other formerly colonized societies, for Dutch colonial slavery history has and continues to have a major impact on societies around the world.

The project aims to bring together scattered forms of knowledge and provide a vision for further research. Through seminars and gatherings, both in the Netherlands and the wider Kingdom, the editorial board attempts to provide more connection for researchers of slavery. To reach a wider audience of researchers and citizens, new ways of presenting the project are continuously workshopped.

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 started as the sixteenth century with the enslavement of people in Africa. It 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 project 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 project 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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