Tracing slavery. The Politics of Atlantic Memory in The Netherlands

This book offers a fascinating study of the often implicit ways in which the memory of slavery affects present-day relations in the Bijlmer, a suburb of Amsterdam that since the 1970s became ever more marked by Afro-Surinamese presence.

Peter Geschiere, University of Amsterdam

Looking at the ways in which the memory of slavery affects present-day relations in Amsterdam, this ethnographic account reveals a paradox: while there is growing official attention to the country’s slavery past (monuments, festivals, ritual occasions), many interlocutors showed little interest in the topic. Developing the notion of “trace” as a seminal notion to explore this paradox, this book follows the issue of slavery in everyday realities and offers a fine-grained ethnography of how people refer to this past – often in almost unconscious ways – and weave it into their perceptions of present-day issues.

Markus Balkenhol is a researcher at Meertens Institute. His most recent publications include Atlantic Perspectives: Places, Spirits and Heritage, co-edited with Ruy Llera Blanes and Ramon Sarró, (2019, Berghahn Books).



Chapter 1. The Politics of Autochthony
Chapter 2. Negotiating Colonial Geographies
Chapter 3. Practices of Diaspora
Chapter 4. Kaskawina – Politics of a Lower Frequency
Chapter 5. Doing Cultural Heritage: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Authentication