Colonialism and Slavery

An Alternative History of the Port City of Rotterdam Gert Oostindie

About this book

Unlike most city histories, this book focuses exclusively on the city’s connections with colonialism and slavery. Rotterdam, the second-largest Dutch city, is one of Europe’s leading ports. Its maritime expansion was intrinsically linked to Dutch colonialism, including slave trading and colonial slavery in the Americas, Africa and Asia. This painful history sits uneasily with the city’s modern cosmopolitan image  and its large population of ‘new Rotterdammers’ with colonial roots. The present volume provides a summary of the research that has documented this history, with chapters on the contribution of colonial trade to economic development; the city’s involvement in slavery; the role of the urban political elites; the impact on urban development and architecture; the ‘ethical impulse’; colonial art and ethnographic collections; colonial and postcolonial migration; and finally the resonance of this history in postcolonial Rotterdam.

‘an original and solid piece of scholarship’

Gert Oostindie is Director of the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden, and Professor of Colonial and Postcolonial History at Leiden University. He has published widely on slavery, colonialism, decolonization, postcolonial migration and the relevance of the colonial past for contemporary society.

Introduction Colonialism and slavery

ToC Colonialism and slavery

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  1. ISBN: 9789087283704
  2. Published: November 2021
  3. Pages: 248
  4. Language: English
  5. Format: Paperback
  6. Price:



  • Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, University of Amsterdam, on the Dutch edition

    […] an original and solid piece of scholarship written by people with the necessary expertise on the topics they cover, and in several cases personal connections with the subject matter. It is well written and accessible to people who do not have an in-depth knowledge of Dutch colonial history.

  • Guy Vanthemsche, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, on the Dutch edition

    This is a very timely publication: this legacy is the subject of debate not just in the Netherlands but in virtually all former colonizing countries. The various contributions assembled in the Dutch edition provide a carefully balanced overview of what colonization means for the Western European actor being examined, namely Rotterdam, which as a large port played a major role in Dutch colonial expansion.

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