Slavernijverleden werpt schaduw vooruit | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 5, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2468-2187
  • E-ISSN: 2468-2195


Slavery past casts a shadow. A World Heritage Status for the plantation system of western Curaçao?

The possible nomination of the western plantations for the World Heritage List of UNESCO offers a possibility to safeguard this rather unique - but eroding - relict landscape. However, an important precondition for a successful nomination is consensus on a clear strategy and goals of a nomination. The strategy could involve a new nomination, but also an extension of the existing site of Willemstad. This latter option retroactively gives the opportunity to clarify the (architectural) wealth of Willemstad and to explain why people from different continents came together in this port city. Another precondition is popular support, which is rather shallow due to the centuries-long connection of plantations with slavery. A nomination definitely should acknowledge the dark pages of history, including the intangible aspects of this past. More systematic research into the various aspects of the slave society could help to fill such ‘knowledge gaps’. It seems wise to diminish the traditional focus on the architecture of the plantations and to consider them as a cultural landscape, as well as to focus on the ingenious ways people tried to make a living in this dry landscape. This implies that the selection needs to be revised, taking into account other modes of production, like salt, water and mining.


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