Veni project is starting today: Slavery, Heritage and Tourism in the Ghana-Suriname-Netherlands Triangle

Here we are again on this date of 1 April which is fast becoming a memorable and important marker for me in many ways. It has been only two years ago that we made a family relocation from the UK to the Netherlands and I officially started the position of a Lectuer in Cultural Geography at Wageningen University on 1 April 2019. Some things have moved quite quickly while other things have been much slower than hoped as we’ve sought to build roots in the city of Wageningen. I moved to the tenure track system as an Assistant Professor in July, 2020 in the process getting back to my research roots. This brings me to today’s imporant marker….

Today, 1 April 2021 marks the official starting date for my NWO (Dutch Research Council) funded 3 year VENI research project. This project is starting in a fascinating period in the Netherlands, with COVID19 related travel restrictions, the election of the first black women (of Suriname descent) as party leader to the Dutch parliament, the upcoming first slavery exhibition at the Rijk’s museum, ongoing #BLM protests and resulting dialogues in many towns and cities around the country. There is so much going on and so much flux that sometimes it’s hard to keep on top of it all.

As dreaming goes, I was hoping that by the time I get to this official starting point, I would have had all my next steps fully laid out. Well, as you can imagine, this dream is yet to be realised given the current COVID19 induced changes in teaching and research. Part of the challenge so far has been the multitude of ideas that keep coming to me and for which I’ve had to actively push away from my thinking. I needed the thinking space in my head to focus on my ongoing online teaching and to ensure that I deliver the best possible teaching experience to my students. Now active teaching (marking still to come) is pretty much done for me – except one or two guest lectures on the horizon. But we are here now and I just want to be able to mark out this starting point as I now begin to fully focus on and flesh out the basic building blocks of how I am going to get this project realised.

As we say in Ghanaian pidgin, “I don’t wanna talk chaaw”. This is a short post to commemorate the official start of this Veni project. I am looking forward with excited anticipation of how the next three years of research will change me and change the way we look at tourism’s transformative role in the context of slavery heritage debates in Ghana, Suriname, the Netherlands and around the world. I will keep you updated regularly on this journey…

For a primer and taster of what is to come, watch these two recorded lectures I gave in the past year – one for Black History (Achievement) Month at the University of Exeter and the other one a public lecture with a socially-distanced small live audience for Studium Generale at Wageningen University. In both of these lectures, I provide an outline of the conceptual ideas and societal issues that animate my project.

WUR Studium Generale Lecture – 8 December, 2020

University of Exeter Business School Black History (Achievement) Month Lecture

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