Universiteit Leiden

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Conference | Workshop

Replacing Curacao’s ‘mild slavery’ thesis: From critique to new findings

Thursday 21 November 2019
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
2.60 (Conference room)

Slavery on the island of Curacao did not conform to the general patterns of slave-holding in the Americas. As a dry and infertile island with an excellent natural harbor the Dutch West India Company and private firms primarily used the island as a nodal point that tied together licit and illicit lines of trade. Slavery was nevertheless central to its economy.

Comparison to emblematic American slave societies such as Suriname have triggered historians in the past to characterize Curacao slavery as ‘mild’. Although few would use this characterization in an unqualified manner today, historians still lack an adequate way to conceptualize Curacao as a slave society.

During this workshop historians and archeologists will have an interdisciplinary conversation about their most recent findings regarding Curacao slavery and aim to develop new ways to conceptualize it.


12:30 Welcome and lunch

13:00 Introduction by Karwan Fatah-Black & Felicia Fricke

13:15 Session 1: Legal history

  • Elisabeth Heijmans, Controlling masters and slaves: early modern legislation in Curacao in a comparative and global perspective
  • Sophie Rose, ‘Authorities’ responses to private and public violence against slaves and free people of color: comparisons between eighteenth-century Curacao and Berbice

14:30 Break

14:45 Session 2: Archeology and oral history

  • Felicia Fricke, Theorising Slavery in Curacao: A Postcolonial Perspective on Oral History and Archaeology
  • Jason Laffoon, The Bioarchaeology of Slavery in Curacao

16:00 Closing Remarks Alex van Stipriaan

16:30 Drinks


Registration is not needed for this workshop, but if you would like to join the lunch previous to the event, please send an e-mail to history@hum.leidenuniv.nl with possible dietary requirements for your sandwich and drink.

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