Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies


5 February 2024
16:30 - 18:00
Drift 13, room 003

Book Presentation: Repertoires of Slavery

During this session Sarah Adams will present her book Repertoires of Slavery: Dutch Theater Between Abolitionism and Colonial Subjection, 1770-1810 (Amsterdam University Press 2023). Through the lens of a hitherto unstudied repertoire of Dutch abolitionist theater productions, this study prises open the conflicting ideological functions of antislavery discourse within and outside the walls of the theater and examines the ways in which abolitionist protesters wielded the strife-ridden question of slavery to negotiate the meanings of human rights, subjecthood, and subjection. The book explores how dramatic visions of antislavery provided a site for (re)mediating a white metropolitan—and at times a specifically Dutch—identity. It offers insight into the late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century theatrical modes, tropes, and scenarios of racialized subjection and considers them as materials of the “Dutch cultural archive,” or the Dutch “reservoir” of sentiments, knowledge, fantasies, and beliefs about race and slavery that have shaped the dominant sense of the Dutch self up to the present day.

The session will be chaired by Dr. Johan Sonnenschein, and we warmly invite you to join for drinks after!

About the Author

Sarah J. Adams is assistant professor of Modern Dutch Literature at Utrecht University and a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University. Her expertise lies at the intersection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, postcolonial theory, (national) identity formation, and popular culture. Repertoires of Slavery (AUP 2023), her first monograph, examines the construction of whiteness in Dutch abolitionist theater of the decades around 1800. Currently, Sarah focuses on blackface cultures in the Low Countries and deals with themes of slavery and independence in the work of Caribbean-Dutch authors.