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Meet the Expert: Karwan Fatah-Black

11 November 2019

Meet the Expert: Karwan Fatah-Black

Expert in Dutch Colonial History, Karwan-Fatah Black, was recently cited in the New York Times on the current discussion on the term of the ‘Golden Age’ in the Netherlands, stating that “[i]f you want to protect an open and democratic system, it will mean that you have to promote greater inclusion of what you understand as ‘Dutch,’

Karwan Fatah-Black is assistant professor and historian at Leiden University, specialised in Dutch colonial history in the Atlantic world, and more specifically the history of slavery. With the current discussions on Colonialism and Slavery, Fatah-Black occasionally makes media appearances, consults museums, gives public lectures and publishes articles in renowned newspapers and/or news websites:

In 2016 Vrij Nederland published an interview with Fatah-Black in which he spoke about the increasing attention to the colonial past and slavery. More recently he spoke about the history of blackface in the Dutch radio programme ‘Oog op Morgen (September 2019, Dutch). And last October he was part of the broadcast of the Dutch programme ‘Achter de Dijken’ (Dutch), where he spoke about the rebellious Surinamese slave Andries and his legal battle between slavery and freedom and the ‘Golden Age’.

His activities emphasise the need for acknowledgement of colonial history and its influences on Dutch society and its cultural institutions. He also focuses on ‘reparations’ for this colonial past, such as an apology by the city of Amsterdam for its part in the slave trade.

Together with previous LeidenGlobal chairman Gert Oostindie (professor of Colonial and Postcolonial History), Fatah-Black has written a city guide on the traces of slavery that can be found in the city of Leiden, titled ‘Sporen van de slavernij in Leiden’ (2017). Currently, he works on the NWO-funded project ‘Paths through slavery’ that highlights how mostly female slaves empowered themselves and their families through personal relationships, trade and the legal system in nineteenth century Suriname.

In addition, he is a member of the board of the Institute for the Advancement of Suriname Studies (IBS) and a co-founder of the Leiden Slavery Studies Association, which promotes a greater understanding of slavery and post-slavery in multiple regions and points in time. The association builds upon Leiden’s strong tradition in humanities and social-science scholarship on world migrations, globalization, and minority studies, but also aims at bettering Leiden University’s international profile and expertise on slavery scholarship.

Interested in the ways in which Karwan Fatah-Black and other experts engage in interdisciplinary research? Join him at the November 21st conference on slavery on the island of Curacao, where historians and archaeologists have a conversation about their recent findings on Curacao slavery.

Find more LeidenGlobal experts on our expertspage. 

written by LeidenGlobal intern Jemima

November 2019

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