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Guno Jones delivers inaugural lecture as first professor of Anton de Kom Chair

21 June 2024
Today, Guno Jones delivered his inaugural lecture as the first professor to hold the Anton de Kom Chair at VU Amsterdam. In a speech titled “Will the real global citizen please stand up?”, Jones highlighted the complex history of colonialism and slavery and its continuing impact on modern society.

Jones emphasized that the history of colonialism and slavery is not a static entity but a dynamic battlefield of diverse perspectives. These perspectives are shaped by time, context, and political orientation. Jones drew inspiration from the work of Anton de Kom, who centered the anti-colonial and anti-capitalist quest for freedom within the colonial Surinamese-Dutch relationship.

According to Jones, breaking the silence surrounding colonialism and slavery at the end of the twentieth century in the Netherlands sparked a debate about citizenship, national identity, and the sense of belonging. In contemporary Surinamese society, these themes reappear in discussions about reparations and land rights. In the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, political inequality also plays a significant role. The transnational nature of these issues is evident in the debate over the impact of visa policies on family life between Suriname and the Netherlands following the Dutch government's apologies.

About the Anton de Kom Chair at VU Amsterdam
On 1 December, the Executive Board of VU Amsterdam appointed Guno Jones as a professor on the ‘Anton de Kom Chair for the History of Colonialism and Slavery and their Contemporary Social, Cultural, and Legal Implications’. The chair, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and established in consultation with the Anton de Kom Foundation and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname (AdeKUS), focuses on the historical processing of the Dutch slavery past and is a gesture of the Dutch government for the rehabilitation of Anton de Kom. Building on the ideas of De Kom, the chair bridges the gap between the Netherlands and Suriname and between the Humanities and Legal Studies. VU Amsterdam places great importance on this chair, which broadly incorporates the colonial past into the study of social issues in both the past and the present.

Photo Anton de Kom: Gustave Adolph Rheingans, publiek domein, via Wikimedia Commons

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