<aside> 👨🏽‍💻 In this workshop will try to find ways to show these hidden histories by using the architecture in Amsterdam as a gateway. The following materials can be used for the concepts, but feel free to use any other sources you may know or find.


Dutch Colonial history and Slavery

The following sources are great if you are new to Dutch colonial history, or you need a quick recap about the VOC and WIC.

Dutch Trade in Black People

The trading Companies VOC & WIC

Shareholders in slavery

Amsterdam played a big role in funding and profiting from slavery in the colonies. In the following spreadsheet and map, you can see where they lived, and how many people contributed to slavery and exploitation in the colonies. The involvement varies, some people owned actual plantations. Other people funded slavery by having shares in companies like the VOC and WIC.

Shareholders in slavery

Small powerful circles

In 200 years of systematic human trafficking and enslavement, did no-one come forth to say this was unethical? Many mayors or city council members, were also shareholders or board member in the VOC or WIC. Mayors were elected every year by the members of the city council, so having friends would be beneficial. Circles were kept small through marriages of convenience, which left little room for outsiders to have a say about slavery and exploitation.

In Shareholders in slavery we can reveal how intertwined politics and colonial trade were. Find out what members were involved in multiple circles by looking at their tags, or find out which people had Double occupations

Occupations can be found under the "role" column.

Occupations can be found under the "role" column.

To make this elitist group even more tight-knit, many of these politicians and investors were also neighbours. Their wealth was the reason why the city center looks the way it does today.


Indirect involvement

Not only affluent and powerful people of noble families contributed to slavery. There were many products and inventions that made the journey to the colonies possible.

There are many traces of these professions incorporated in Amsterdam architecture. In medieval times when not everyone could read, craftsmen often put gable stones (gevelstenen) on their storefronts to visually tell what was sold in the store. Many of these can be found in the center of Amsterdam and are also documented.

"Twe kanefasbale 1639" (Two canvas bales) These canvas bales are used to store textiles, or bulk goods like coffee or tobacco *(*Image free to use)

"Twe kanefasbale 1639" (Two canvas bales) These canvas bales are used to store textiles, or bulk goods like coffee or tobacco *(*Image free to use)

Enabling infrastructures

The Cooper made barrels who were necessary for a long lasting food supply on ships.

The Cartograper made maps for navigation and to document new land.

The Compass made accurate navigation overseas easier.

The Bible provided slave traders with a seemingly moral justification for their unethical practices. Their defense was that slavery was allowed in the bible, and therefore allowed in modern times.

Once arrived in the colonies, we could not just take whatever we wanted and leave. The Europeans were way outnumbered by the native inhabitants. This meant we had to either trade with the locals, or take a more violent approach.

Trading goods

Glass Trading beads were used to trade with the locals. These were inexpensive for us to make, but of great value to native Africans and Americans.

Firearms, supplied by merchants like the ‣ and the Trip Family were used first threaten the locals (in both North-America and Africa), and then offering them a method to kill fellow natives more efficiently.