My current book project focuses on the development of Suriname and New Netherland/New York in the seventeenth century. New Netherland was a settlement under Dutch control that had been taken by the English in 1664. Conversely, Suriname had been an English colony that the Dutch took in 1667. My project focuses on the way the colonies developed before and after these conquests, showing that local interactions influenced the development of the colony more than the European takeovers did.
By focusing on the seventeenth-century histories of New York and Suriname, this project combines the stories of a North American settler colony and a South American sugar colony in one historical narrative. Both colonies followed a history of indigenous-European trade, both settlements built societies by using bonded and enslaved laborers, and both communities became part and contributed to an intricate network of Atlantic trade. While the Europeans who claimed ownership of the colonies had their own agenda, they always had to work within the limits set locally by fragile cooperation, unpredictable alliances, and brutal conflicts between inhabitants of all ethnicities.
The Anglo-Dutch Americas shows how the development of early American colonies was shaped by people who were not driven by loyalty to their nation or to the ethnic group they belonged to. Rather, the interactions between ordinary individuals who aimed to survive and to better their personal circumstances determined the character of the early American settlement colonies.
This book project builds on my PhD dissertation “Anglo-Dutch Suriname: Ethnic Interaction and Colonial Transition in the Caribbean, 1651-1682”, which I defended at the University of Amsterdam in 2015. I have further developed this project while I was a Niels Stensen Fellow at Georgetown University’s history department. This research has already yielded various publications which you can find in the overview of my English publications. I have also written pieces on my research for a broader audience, which you can find in this list of Dutch publications.