Slave Trade archaeology on St Eustatius

 POND ISLAND–EUROTAST, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network with the primary objective of training a new generation of researchers, will hold a symposium on slavery for its fellows in St. Maarten on February 8-9 at the University of St. Martin. A public day on February 8 starting at 9:00am has been organised to allow residents to learn more about studies related to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Prior to the symposium, themed Archaeology of Slavery: Reclaiming African identity from Africa to the Americas, archaeological fieldwork will be carried out on St. Eustatius.

A Danish film crew will document the events of the EUROTAST programme.

St. Maarten Archaeological Centre SIMARC in cooperation with Leiden University, will host the symposium while St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research SECAR and the university will host the fieldwork.

The EUROTAST training initiative in St. Eustatius is the second of its kind focussing on the archaeology of slavery and ethically-engaged practice. This initiative will begin with a seven-day course in practical fieldwork and  conclude with the twoday symposium on the same topics with papers given by prominent scholars working on the subject.

The fieldwork for the EUROTAST fellows will be at an enslaved African village site associated with an 18 th century sugar plantation. The fieldwork will be supervised by SECAR archaeologist Ruud Stelten and Professors Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland from Leiden University.

This training course will introduce the fellows to basic field techniques and provide a unique opportunity to work on an archaeological site linked to colonial slavery in the Caribbean. The two-day symposium seeks to explore and question the ways archaeology has contributed to academic and public understanding of slavery in the Atlantic world both as an institution and as a lived experience for people of African descent.

Voices from the St. Maarten cultural community have been invited to reflect more widely on the transatlantic slave trade and its representation in a local context. The programme will also include a roundtable discussion on ethics in archaeology and a public lecture on symposium themes given by Professor Theresa Singleton from Syracuse University.

A selection of symposium papers will be edited and compiled for a special issue of the Journal of African Diaspora Archaeology and Heritage.

Several eminent professors are slated to make presentations at the symposium including Professor Kodzo Gavua of University of Ghana, Professor Tom Gilbert of University of Copenhagen, Dr. Artwell Cain of the Institute of Cultural Heritage and Knowledge, Professor Theresa Singleton of Syracuse University, Dr. Patrice Courtaud of University of Bordeaux, and resident archaeologist Dr. Jay Haviser among others.

Representing “the First Voice” at the symposium will be former Minister of Culture Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, author Lasana M. Sekou, cultural activists Clara Reyes, Daniella Jeffry, Shujah Reip, Fabian Ade Badejo, and Jose Lake Jr.

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on the picture: The Slave Fort (also known as the Water Fort and Fort Amsterdam) is located on Oranje Bay and was the main trans-shipment point for Enslaved Africans. (source