Anton de Kom was an anticolonial thinker, resistance fighter, father, author, and poet—a renaissance man par excellance born in the Dutch colony Suriname. In his Wij slaven van Suriname (1934), De Kom, as a descendant of enslaved peoples in Suriname, described with razor-sharpness the oppression and exploitation of people on the basis of “race” and class, both during the period of slavery and after its abolition. Although he became known as a national hero in Suriname, in the former colonial metropole of the Netherlands his name, work, and life story were relatively unknown. In 2020, however, Wij slaven became a bestseller, eighty-six years after its original publication, and De Kom became part of the Dutch canon. This essay explores this new, even unexpected, “success” of Wij slaven, and indeed of Anton de Kom, within the Dutch public and political spheres.
More Relevant Than Ever: We Slaves of Suriname Today
Mitchell Esajas is cofounder of the New Urban Collective and The Black Archives in Amsterdam, a unique collection of books, documents, and artifacts documenting the history of Black people and Black resistance in the Dutch context. By working with artists, activists, academics, communities, and other organizations, The Black Archives aims to make these erased histories visible and accessible for a broad audience.
Mitchell Esajas; More Relevant Than Ever: We Slaves of Suriname Today. Small Axe 1 March 2023; 27 (1 (70)): 87–99. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-10461871
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