Start of international scientific research program regarding slavery past

The colonial slavery past of the Netherlands and its impact have had a profound effect on various countries worldwide. Nevertheless, the knowledge available about this joint slavery past has been written primarily from a colonial perspective. In order to enhance this perspective, Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf (Education, Culture and Science) is launching a global scientific cooperation program on this theme in Aruba today. He announced this today during a knowledge mission in the Caribbean.

Dijkgraaf: “More scientific knowledge of our shared past is of vital importance. In this context, it is essential that research can be carried out from new angles, at the locations where slavery took place. The knowledge this produces will be of great value in gaining a better understanding of our shared history. I am delighted that I can launch this research program during the Slavery Past Memorial Year.”

Kick-off in the Caribbean

Dijkgraaf wants to promote knowledge cooperation about the slavery past among universities worldwide, starting within our own Kingdom. He has set aside €375,000 for research in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten up to and including 2027. This will enable local scientists to research the slavery past in these countries.
Research into this theme will also be facilitated in the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius). There is a separate budget for this.

Common thread worldwide

The Netherlands also has deep ties with Suriname, Indonesia and South Africa because of a shared slavery past. In these countries, many enslaved people were traded or shipped elsewhere by the Dutch.

The historical and present-day context differs from one country to another. Bringing the various perspectives together will create great added value for a better understanding of our joint history. This is why Dijkgraaf, together with Suriname, Indonesia and South Africa, wants to stimulate scientific research into the slavery past in these countries as well. The idea for this arose during knowledge missions to these countries, where Dijkgraaf spoke with several scientists who research the slavery past. The plan is to structure the scientific cooperation along similar lines as in the Caribbean part of our Kingdom.
The first talks with these countries have been positive. There is profound consensus about the importance of scientific cooperation.

Knowledge sharing

Sharing knowledge is a key premise of the global research program. The form this will take is currently being worked out. Initial ideas include the creation of a research network, travelling exhibitions, a book, or opening and closing conferences. Dutch scientists will also have a role in this process. This will be given further shape later this year.

Greater scope for multiple perspectives in education and research

Last year, State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen announced during the Tula commemoration in Curaçao that the government would establish a chair on the slavery past for Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Dijkgraaf is now giving substance to this as part of the scientific cooperation program, in the form of an international chair on the impact of the slavery past. In addition, the government has already announced the Tula scholarship, named after the leader of the large-scale uprising of enslaved people in Curaçao of 1795. Each year, this scholarship enables one student from Curaçao to follow a full-time bachelor’s program in history teaching at a university of applied sciences of their choice. This will create greater scope for multiple perspectives in education and research.