Slavery, Abolition and Compensation in the Dutch Colonies in the West and in the East


Course Objective

Becoming familiar with debates in the field of comparative slavery
studies. Developing research skills and archival research in particular.

Course Content

In 1860 slavery was formally abolished throughout the Indonesian
archipelago and three years later in the Netherlands Antilles and
Suriname. In both colonies and in the Netherlands the ideological and
the practical sides of the emancipation of the enslaved proved to be
thorny issues. Compensations for the slave owners were considered to be
indispensable and immediate emancipation undesirable by most of the
decision makers involved. Although the situation in the Dutch Asian
colonies was very different from the Dutch colonial possessions in the
Atlantic, there are similarities as well. Both the government in the
Hague and local colonial administrators took a cautious and gradualist
approach to emancipation. Racial prejudice, social conservatism,
lobbying by colonial interest groups and even outright resistance by
slave owners all played a role in this gradualism. In this research
seminar we will dive into primary sources of these histories and study
their comparison.

Teaching Methods

This seminar will consist of finding, transcribing and analyzing primary
sources, and reporting the findings in presentations. Students are
encouraged to find their own research topic after an initial period of
collective research meetings and discussions. There are options to
contribute to ongoing research projects at the VU and the IISH on the
history and memory of the slave trade and slavery both in the Atlantic
or the Indian Ocean World.

Method of Assessment

Assignments (30%), research paper (70%).


In English and will be announced in the course manual.

Target Audience

Master Students and Research Master Students in History.

Additional Information

This is a research seminar aimed at doing archival research and writing
a MA research paper. In 2018-2019 the focus will be on the Dutch
plantation colony Suriname as well as Indonesia. International students
will have the option to write a paper on neighboring British colonies in
the same regions and with similar experiences (e.g. British Guyana or
Malaysia) and of which relevant documents are online available.

General Information

Course Code L_GAMAGES031
Credits 6 EC
Period P2+3
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. U.T. Bosma
Examiner prof. dr. U.T. Bosma
Teaching Staff prof. dr. U.T. Bosma
dr. D.G. Hondius

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

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