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Surinamese political history. A specific type of shared history


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.


When it comes to the political history of Suriname, so far attention has been primarily directed towards the period 1945-1975, when Suriname acquired the institutions belonging to a parliamentary democracy, and the period from 1975 to the present, when the republic of Suriname entered a turbulent era in which alternating authoritarian and democratic tendencies predominated in politics.

This course – which was created with an Erasmus+ grant – covers the years 1945 to the present and is special because it is taught by an historian from the Netherlands and an historian from Suriname. They regard Surinamese political history as a specific type of shared history. This viewpoint is not undisputed. Understandably the legacy of the colonial past evokes diverse responses in the post-colonial present and inevitably has repercussions for scholarly dealings with the country's post-World War II history.

In this seminar the perspective of shared history and its applicability for Suriname’s political history will be explored. Using primary and secondary sources, instructors and students will look at the involvement of Dutch and Surinamese actors in this history (both at a national and a transnational level) and at processes aimed at detachment and independence (fueled by examinations of decolonization and nation building practices). Particularly the concepts of ethnicity and class and the method of political biography will be deployed. To ensure that its design will reach its full benefit both instructors will also give this seminar at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.

Please bear in mind that this intensive course will take place on seven working days between 24 January and 1 February 2022. Excellent knowledge of the Dutch language is imperative for students who wish to participate.

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 post-World War II political history of Suriname;
14. knowledge about the workings of ethnicity and class in Surinamese political history;
15. experience with the perspective of shared history and the method of political biography;
16. the skills to work with source materials – both published and unpublished written sources and oral history;
16. (ResMA only:) – the skills mentioned above and in addition competency in linking theoretical analysis to the handling of primary source material.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

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

Students are expected to purchase and study well before the start of the course Hans Ramsoedh, Surinaams onbehagen. Een sociale en politieke geschiedenis van Suriname 1865-2015. Hilversum: Verloren, 2018. 368p. The instructors will provide additional articles and chapters in PDF. Reading list and course schedule will be made available on Brightspace.


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.


Not applicable.