Voor de beste ervaring schakelt u JavaScript in en gebruikt u een moderne browser!
Je gebruikt een niet-ondersteunde browser. Deze site kan er anders uitzien dan je verwacht.
Open Programma

The Unknown Caribbean: Artistic Key Moments in Dutch-Caribbean History (EN)

“The poets made the independence of Suriname”, said Hugo Pos, a Surinamese judge, poet and writer.

And this is indeed true, in so far as literature played an important role in changing people’s minds. But it is not only poetry, or literature, marking decisive moments in the history of the Dutch-Caribbean colonies – Suriname and the Dutch-Caribbean Islands. From slavery times we know that dance, music, storytelling, proverbs and clothing were crucial in conserving people’s souls, giving shape to resistance and shaping communities.

In this course, we explore decisive artistic movements and moments in the formation of Dutch-Caribbean nations. We will try to delineate how this worked and what voices were raised. How did music sound, how were people depicted in the visual arts? Where did African voices transform into black Caribbean voices? Where and how did Asian influences kick in?

We will hear black eminent scholarly speakers from Suriname, Curaçao, the USA and Europe. In addition, we will hear live music, see visual arts, engage in theatre and smell the Caribbean! 


Mr. Michiel van Kempen

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, students are able to:

  • Provide an understanding of the main views brought forward during the course;
  • Connect different issues brought forward in different lectures;
  • Define a number of the most decisive works, artists and moments in the formation of Dutch-Caribbean nations
  • Give a personal reflection on the issues presented;
  • Connect historical and actual developments regarding the Caribbean arts and mindset of several peoples;
  • Explain observations regarding a visit to a recent exposition on Caribbean arts.

Teaching format

  • Lecture
  • Excursion to an exhibition
  • Self-study

Course programme

  • Thursday, 9 September 2021 – Prof. Michiel van Kempen (UL): A general introduction to the Caribbean: concepts & changes
  • Thursday, 16 September 2021 – Prof Rose Mary Allen (Uof Curaçao): Oral traditions in the Dutch Windward Islands
  • Thursday, 23 September 2021 – Leo Balai: What the architecture of Amsterdam tells us about slavery times
  • Thursday, 30 September 2021 – Prof. Christine Levecq (Kettering University): Identities: Art and Literature of the African Diaspora in 18th-Century Europe
    • Guillaume Guillon-Lethière (paintings)
    • Jacobus Capitein (excerpts from letters)
    • Olaudah Equiano (excerpts from his Narrative)
  • Thursday, 7 October 2021 – Sarah Adams (UGent): Abolitional voices in Dutch colonial theatre
  • Thursday, 14 October 2021 –  Carl Haarnack: Books & graphic art in the Dutch Caribbean 1700-1900
  • Thursday, 21 October 2021 – Henna Goudzand (UvA): Anton de Kom
  • Thursday, 4 November 2021 – Cynthia Abrahams (UvA): Great voices in nationalistic poetry of Suriname: Trefossa, Shrinivási, Slory and Dobru
  • Thursday, 11 November 2021 – Rabin Baldewsingh: The Indian presence in the Caribbean: baithak gana & poetry
  • Thursday, 18 November 2021 – Kitchell Samuel: Dutch-Caribbean movies
  • Thursday, 25 November 2021 – Paul Faber: Seminal works in Dutch-Caribbean visual arts
  • Thursday, 2 December 2021 – Ronald Snijders: Stars of Dutch-Caribbean music


Intermediate paper on the basis of self-found and reviewed scientific material. The final assessment consists of an end paper.

Entry requirements

Open to second-year and third-year Bachelor’s students.

Study material

  • Literature For every lecture a paper has to been read, to be published online or on Canvas.
  • Syllabus
  • Practical material
  • Software
  • Other


You can find the timetable on Datanose.

Number of participants



UvA students can register from 7 June 2021 (look for code 5512THUC6Y in SIS) until one week prior to the start of the course. If you have any trouble while registering, please contact us at Keuzeonderwijs-iis@uva.nl

Other interested parties, such as contract students or students from other institutions, can register from 7 June until one week prior to the start of the course by completing the registration form.


Check the website.

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes, and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website

Facts & Figures
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Conditions for admission
Starts in September