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Trade for slave societies: the rise and fall of Sint-Eustatius, 1770-1785


Admission requirements

Good command of English and Dutch.


This research seminar focuses on the rise and decline of the Dutch Caribbean colony of Sint-Eustatius (Statia), 1770-1785. The small island had a short-lived but pivotal role as a centre of legal and illegal trade in commodities and slaves in the northern Atlantic. Its population increased from some 2,000 around 1760 to 8,000 by 1790, with slaves making up the majority of the population. Through archival research, we will make an attempt to reconstruct the circulation of people, goods and ideas through Statia as well as the internal social history of the so-called Golden Rock that was ransacked by the British admiral Rodney in 1781 because of its infringement to British commercial interest and, a good alibi, its ‘first salute’ to the American flag.

Course objectives

Introduction to Caribbean social history and slavery. Acquisition of skills in archival research and writing and defense of research paper.


See course-schedule

Mode of instruction

  • Archival research (National Archives, the Hague)

  • Discussion of literature and research papers

Assessment method

Pre-entry exam. Attendance at meetings is obligatory. Participation in discussion of literature and research paper (25 %). Resarch paper (75 %).


Detailed information will be available on Blackboard, Fall of 2010

Reading list

Pre-entry: David Brion Davis, Inhuman bondage. The rise and fall of slavery in the New World. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2006.
Further literature: ca. 300 pages, to be announced.


See enrolment-procedure

Contact information

prof. dr. G.J. Oostindie


All archival sources will be in Dutch.