nl en

Surinamese Political History: A Special Case 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.


Surinamese political history: A special case of shared history?

This course covers the political history of Suriname from 1945 to the present and has two objectives. The first aim is to trace and assess the determinants of this history. Naturally, the legacy of the colonial past and the effects of Surinamese-Dutch relations will be part of these investigations. Specific attention will be paid to the influence of ethnicity, class, gender, education, place of residence, leadership styles and ideological beliefs. International and transnational developments are also discussed.

Secondly, this course aims to further examine the historiography of Suriname's political history. In the past decades, Eurocentric perspectives seem to have been replaced by Suriname-centric ones. However, resorting to autonomous history, world systemic history and entangled history respectively has not yet resulted in many scholarly works that fully realize the aspired Suriname-centric ambitions. Quite recently the concept of shared history has been introduced to give new impetus to the existing historiographical debate.

Using primary and secondary sources, students will investigate the political history of Suriname focusing on long-term developments and recurring characteristics and patterns. In addition, they will attempt to determine the applicability of the concept of shared history. Can this concept take Suriname-centric historiography to a higher level or is it too complex and does it mainly hinder such an approach?

Excellent knowledge of the Dutch language is necessary for students who want to participate in this course. There is no entrance test, but students are expected to purchase the following handbook before starting the course:

Hans Ramsoedh,Surinaams onbehagen. Een sociale en politieke geschiedenis van Suriname, 1865-2015. Hilversum: Verloren, 2018.

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:

  1. Advanced knowledge and comprehension of Suriname’s colonial and postcolonial history;
  2. State-of-the-art insight into the workings of ethnicity, class, gender, leadership styles and ideological beliefs regarding Suriname’s political history;
  3. Experience in critically examining the historiography of Suriname’s political history and judging the applicability of the perspective of shared history;
  4. (ResMA only) The ability to creatively deal with a variety of primary and secoundary sources while juxtaposing and comparing the historiography of Suriname’s political history with related historiographies in other countries in the Caribbean, in Africa and/or in Asia.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)

This means that students must attend every session of the course. Students who are unable to attend must notify the lecturer 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 lecturer 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


  • Final paper (6500-7500 words, based on research in primary and secondary sources, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-15 (ResMA also: 10 and 16)

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

  • Short paper (2000-2500 words, excluding title page, table of contents, footnotes and bibliography)
    measured learning objectives: 1-8, 11-15 (ResMA also: 10)


  • Final paper: 60%

  • Oral presentation and participation: 20%

  • Short paper 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.


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 final 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

In addition to the handbook authored by Hans Ramsoedh (see Description) literature will be provided by the instructor. The reading list and the course schedule will be made available on Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.


  • 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.