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De afschaffing van de slavernij en emancipatie in het Koninkrijk der Nederlanden


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. Students from within the specialization the course belongs to have right of way. It is not accessible for BA students.


The Dutch abolition of slavery has long been a sensitive and understudied subject in the Dutch and Surinamese historiography. Emancipation itself has a double meaning. Nigel O. Bolland made a distinction ‘between emancipation as an event […], and emancipation as a human, social condition.’
In this optional course of 5 ects, the event of the abolition and the proces of emancipation will be studied according to the distinction between the legal event and the societal proces.

When approaching emancipation as an event, it becomes clear that the Dutch was very late in abolishing slavery, compared to the British and French. In the first part of this course the focus will be on the ongoing discussion about the British abolition of slavery, and the impact of it on the Dutch abolition of the slave trade (from 1814) untill the abolition of slavery (in 1863). In the second week of the course we will explore primary sources and students can choose to focus on either the political proces and debates or on the societal and economic impact of the abolition and emancipation.

This course is created as part of an Erasmus+ project between the University of Leiden and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname. The approach is that of shared history on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and mutual influence of the common colonial heritage and legacy. It is because of above mentioned project and the deliberately chosen approach that this course is taught by an historian of the Netherlands and an historian from Suriname.

The course will be organized in the form of a seminar, with (PowerPoint) presentations, historiographical reviews, text (paper) discussions and classroom debates. During the course you will have to write a review of a book chapter or a scientific article in 1500 words. At the end of the course, you will also have to write a discussion paper of 4000 words.

This interactive course is planned on working days from 11:00 to 13:00. Session 1 and 2 on january 11 and 13, and sessions 3-5 on 18, 19, and 20 January. Knowledge of the Dutch language is required for participation in this course.

There will be no entry test. Instead, students are required to read a monograph on Surinamese political history well before the start of the course. See Reading List below.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
  2. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
  3. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  4. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
  5. The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;
  6. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
  7. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
  8. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
  9. The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;
  10. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

The student has acquired:

  1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subtracks as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following;
    -in the specialisation Colonial and Global History: how global (political, socio-economic, and cultural) connections interact with regional processes of identity and state formation; hence insight in cross-cultural processes (including the infrastructure of shipping and other modes of communication) that affect regions across the world such as imperialism, colonisation, islamisation, modernisation and globalisation (in particular during the period 1200-1940);
  2. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subtrack in question, with a particular focus on the following:
    -in the specialisation Colonial and Global History: empirical research from a comparative and connective perspective;

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student will require:
13. knowledge and comprehension of the field of Colonial and Postcolonial history, and particularly of the nineteenth century history of abolition;
14. knowledge about the workings of the political proces towards abolition;
15. Knowledge of the social process in colonies as a result of the onset of abolition;
16. the skills to work with source materials – both published and unpublished written sources;
16. (ResMA only:) – the skills mentioned above and in addition competency in linking theoretical analysis to the handling of primary source material.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students must attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, the student will be excluded from the seminar.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (4.000 words, based on research in primary and secondary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes, and bibliography) measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-16 (ResMA also: 10 and 17)

  • Oral presentation and participation measured learning objectives: 3-9

  • Assignment (Short paper 1.500 words, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes, and bibliography) measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-16 (ResMA also: 10)


  • Written paper: 60%

  • Oral presentation and participation: 20%

  • Assignment: 20%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Brightspace.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Inspection and feedback

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.

Reading list


Enrolment through [uSis] is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For course related questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga.