‘Er is geen recht voor ons…’ | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 54, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1876-9071
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5729



Theatre plays in which social abuses are criticised often display striking parallels to the civic court. Both in trials and theatre performances the complaining party is positioned against someone who defends the accused person or issue, each propagating different viewpoints towards a case, whereupon a judge has to decide on the matter. In the early modern era, plays served as experimental sites to conduct (fictional) cases. When the theatre curtain comes down, the audience is incited to express its opinion on the case that was staged. The case that takes central stage in this article is the accusation of Dutch colonial slavery in Dirk van Hogendorp’s antislavery drama (1800). This play was highly controversial and its performance in The Hague caused great tumult. Drawing on studies of early modern and contemporary theatre, this contribution will examine the interlace of and legal practice by looking at accusations (by slaves and abolitionist characters) and defences (by slave master Kraspoekol). The article addresses how the combination of showing and phrasing injustice might encourage ’s audience to ascribe itself the role by the judge and to condemn not only the wrongful treatment of the characters of , but the entire slavery institution.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Dirk van Hogendorp; Enlightenment; law and literature; slavery; theatre
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