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Lezing: Oral history as autobiography: Exploring Curaçaoan-Cuban intra-Caribbean migration narratives

Lezing door Dr. Rose Mary Allen, over oral history in de context

Framer Framed is pleased to welcome Dr. Rose Mary Allen, for the next event in our open lecture series in collaboration with the chair Dutch-Caribbean Literature of the UvA. The series deals with the influence of colonialism and Dutch imperialism on literature and visual arts in the former Dutch colonies (see below for a full overview).

Curaçao. Foto © Jan H. de Beaujon


In her lecture, Dr. Rose Mary Allen will look at oral history as autobiography in the context of Curaçao. Many of the available written accounts, including literature, of formerly colonized countries represent dominant colonial views of the time. Alternative perspectives and cultural oral traditions were silenced & ignored, and have scarcely been recorded or written down. Rose Mary Allen talks about her oral history research and looks at oral history as a tool to give people a share in writing their own past and present.

Oral history has been increasingly recognized both in a wide range of disciplines within academia aswell as outside, as a valuable contribution to record the historical experiences of ordinary people.

In reconstructing the past of people who historically have been excluded from historiography, oral history challenges the focus of mainstream historiography on political elites and gives working class people a share in writing their own history.
In Allen’s presentation she will look at the Curacaoan oral histories of intra-Caribbean migrations as autobiographical practices, which play an emancipating role in the democratization of historiography and serve as a means for both social and political empowerment.

Reading oral history as self-narratives, the questions which arise are; what types of insights can we get from data? Are these oral histories initiated and largely driven through dialogue with the interviewer really autobiographies in which the narrators construct rational, emotional, and social, yet independent selves?


Rose Mary Allen

Dr. Rose Mary Allen is a cultural anthropologist and part time lecturer at the University of Curaçao dr. Moises da Costa Gomez. She has published on the oral history of former enslaved people of the Dutch Caribbean islands. Her publications include ‘Di Ki Manera’: A Social History of Afro-Curaçaoans, 1863–1917 (2007); and “The Oral History of Slavery, Afro-Curaçaoan Memory, and Self-Definition: A Caribbean Perspective on the 300th Anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht,” In: Sargasso: Journal of Caribbean Literature, Language, & Culture I & II (2014): 135-152.

Date: Wednesday 5 april, 18:00 – 20:00

Venue: Expositieruimte Tolhuistuin, Amsterdam

SAVE THE DATE: more upcoming lectures in this series:

Fri 7 April: The work of Charl Landvreugd & Patricia Kaersenhout
Tue 11 April: Sara Blokland – Srefidensi, photo archives, photo albums, memory & identity [EN]
Fri 14 April: Paul Faber – Moderne kunst in het Caraïbisch gebied [NL]
NEW: Wed 19 April — Iwan Sewandono, on Indonesian painters in the 20th century
Fri 21 April: Ellen de Vries – Nola Hatterman & de kunst in Suriname [NL]


The visit of Rose Mary Allen to the Netherlands is made possible by the Amsterdam Centre for Globalisation Studies of the University of Amsterdam. Rose Mary Allen will give a lecture and workshops at Atria on 28 & 29 March: Unheard Voices: Critical Perspectives on Oral History | Workshop.

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