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Leendert van der Valk 1

Leendert van der Valk

Journalist in Residence

Project title

Atlas of the Dutch History of Slavery

Research question

How many people were enslaved under Dutch colonial rule? Who were they and where did they live?

Project description

Over the last few years the Netherlands is finally having a national debate about its history of slavery. The government and the royal family have apologized for the Dutch role in slavery.

Surprisingly we still don’t have a good view on the true size and extend of the Dutch slavery over the centuries and around the globe. The official number that is constantly referred to is 600.000 Africans who were traded under the Dutch flag. But this geographical bias and the focus on official trade leaves out more than two third of the actual history of Dutch slavery. At least one million, and likely more, enslaved people are left out of the history books, as are dozens of former colonies and trading posts.

At NIAS Leendert van der Valk will work on the ‘Atlas of the Dutch History of Slavery’. The core of the book is the 30 ‘overlooked’ colonies and trading posts, shedding light on the one million or more ‘forgotten’ children, women and men enslaved by Dutch traders. As a journalist who has finally embraced the history nerd within himself, he will work in the tradition of narrative non-fiction. Each chapter will have a main character or story line that tells about the overlooked aspects of slavery.

Selected publications