Universiteit Leiden

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Karwan Fatah-Black

University Lecturer

Dr. K.J. Fatah-Black
+31 71 527 2666

Karwan Fatah-Black (1981) is assistant professor at Leiden University.

“The early modern Atlantic world is the context for my study of the transformational effects of globalization on society. Suriname takes center stage in this. The colony was emblematic for the integrating Atlantic world of the seventeenth to nineteenth century. It was a highly urbanized, slave-based plantation colony over which metropolitan authorities had relatively little power. And it has left a uniquely rich corpus of documentary sources.”


In 2013 Karwan defended his dissertation on the role of Paramaribo as a nodal point in Atlantic trade in the project ‘Dutch Atlantic Connections, 1680-1795’ funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). Over the years he has become an active participant in Dutch and international debates on historical globalization, the history of empire, colonialism and slavery, both inside and outside the academic world. For this work and public outreach the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Science (KNAW) awarded him the biannual Heineken Young Scientist Award of 2016 in the category of historical sciences.

After obtaining his PhD he continued to study the development of the Dutch early modern formal and informal empire in the NWO project ‘Challenging Monopolies’ led by Catia Antunes.

Paired with the research responsibilities he lectured at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Leiden University College and the Institute for History of Leiden University. In 2015 he was appointed the position of assistant professor in Leiden.

In 2015 his monograph White Lies and Black Markets: evading metropolitan authority in colonial Suriname, 1650-1800 was published with Brill. That year he received the prestigious NWO-Veni grant to develop and reinvigorate the field of slavery studies in the Netherlands through an investigation of urban slave agency and empowerment in 18th and 19th century Suriname. In addition he is co-applicant of the NWO-funded (Vrije Competitie) program Resilient diversity: The governance of racial and religious plurality in the Dutch empire, 1600-1800 which will commence in 2017 as a collaborative project between Leiden University and the International Institute for Social History and is spearheading the research into the management of racial and religious plurality in the early modern overseas empire of the Dutch Republic in the early modern period.

Current projects

NWO – Veni: Paths through slavery: urban slave agency and empowerment in colonial Suriname, 1733-1863.

NWO – Vrije Competitie: Resilient diversity: The governance of racial and religious plurality in the Dutch empire, 1600-1800 (Co-applicant with Catia Antunes (PI), Ulbe Bosma and Matthias van Rossum).

Management and editing

Karwan is managing editor of Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction at Cambridge University Press. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Global Slavery, the journal of Suriname and Caribbean studies OSO, and the Zeven Provinciën book series on the history and culture of the early modern Netherlands. He is a member of the board of the Institute for the Advancement of Suriname Studies (IBS), co-founder of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association. During his time PhD representative of the Institute for History he participated in monthly meetings of the Management Team and the biannual Advisory Board, and as post-doc and lecturer served for two years as an elected staff-representative to the University Council of Leiden University.

Publication highlights

White Lies and Black Markets: evading metropolitan authority in colonial Suriname, 1650-1800 (Leiden: Brill, 2015).







With Catia Antunes (eds.), Explorations in History and Globalization (London: Routledge, 2016).







With Matthias van Rossum, ‘De Nederlandse Smokkelhandel, 1600-1800’, special issue TSEG/the Low Countries Journal of Social and Economic History (2016).

With Matthias van Rossum, ‘Beyond Profitability: The Dutch Transatlantic Slave Trade and its Economic Impact’, Slavery & Abolition (2015).

Orangism, Patriotism, and Slavery in Curaçao, 1795–1796’, International Review of Social History (2013).

A Swiss Village in the Dutch Tropics: The Limitations of Empire-Centred Approaches to the Early Modern Atlantic World’, BMGN-Low Countries Historical Review (2013). 

University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Institute for History
  • Economische en Sociale geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga Building
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 2.05b



  • Imagine IC Bestuurslid
  • Koninklijk Nederlands Historisch Genootschap Bestuurslid
  • Zeven Provinciën Reeks Lid van de redactie
  • Instituut ter bevordering van de Surinamistiek Bestuurslid

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