On Friday June 1, the Rijksmuseum
launched the final volume of a series of eight books about trading and colonial relations between the Netherlands and eight other countries. The Country Series concludes with a volume that explores the shared history of Suriname and the Netherlands since 1600, illustrated with objects from the Rijksmuseum collection.
Shackles and bonds
Shackles and Bonds: Suriname and the Netherlands from 1600 was written by Eveline Sint Nicolaas, curator at the History Department. Objects in the Rijksmuseum collection that testify to historical relations between the two countries include paintings of sugar and coffee plantations, maps of Suriname that chart conquests over nature and campaigns against the Maroons, and photographs documenting the later exploitation of the country through gold and bauxite mining. Shackles and Bonds shows how these and many other objects also relate to the lives of enslaved and indentured workers. The personal stories behind the objects also highlight some of the Surinamese people who travelled to the Netherlands over the centuries.
Rijksmuseum Country Series
The Rijksmuseum publishes the Country Series in association with Vantilt Publishers. Many of the objects are repositories of stories that may not be immediately apparent, and would certainly not fit on the limited space of a museum label. How do we perceive these objects from our contemporary perspective, and what messages can they convey that we were once blind or deaf to? In the period from 2015 to 2018, this series of eight books published in Dutch and English language editions have explored the shared history of the Netherlands and, respectively, Ghana, Indonesia, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, India and Suriname. Irma Boom has designed the entire series, and the volume on Indonesia was selected as one of 2015s Best Dutch Book Designs.
The Country Series forms part of museum-wide policy through which colonial history is presented and viewed from diverse perspectives. Academic research, recent acquisitions and a critical appraisal of the collection are all part of this strategy, as are the multimedia tour entitled Colonial Past and the exhibition planned for 2020 about the Netherlands historical involvement with slavery.
The Country Series is published by Vantilt publishers and made possible in part by Gerard Krans and DutchCulture, Centre for International Cooperation