The history of America’s Dutch slave community and free Dutch-speaking African Americans

The history of America’s Dutch slave community and free Dutch-speaking African Americans

The University Press of Mississippi recently published Jeroen Dewulf’s The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves.

The book recounts the history of America’s Dutch slave community and free Dutch-speaking African Americans from seventeenth-century New Amsterdam to nineteenth-century New York and New Jersey, developing a new interpretation of the black folkloric tradition of Pinkster, adopted by the African slaves from their Dutch owners’ Pentecostal celebrations.

Dewulf argues that this slave king celebration is not a form of carnival, as previously assumed, but a ritual rooted in slave brotherhood traditions, related to the ancient Kingdom of Kongo and the impact of Portuguese culture in West-Central Africa.

The Pinkster King won the Richard O. Collins Award in African Studies, the New Netherland Institute Hendricks Award, and the Clague and Carol Van Slyke Prize. Full details of the book appear at www.upress.state.ms.us/books/1997.

Jeroen Dewulf studied Germanic philology and Portuguese studies at Ghent University and is now an associate professor of Dutch studies at the University of California. Publishing in five different languages (English, Dutch, German, Portuguese and French), his research interests include Dutch and Portuguese (post)colonial literature and history, transatlantic slave trade, Low Countries studies, Swiss literature and culture, and European politics in general.

Other publications by Dewulf include Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation and the co-edited volume Shifting the Compass: Pluricontinental Connections in Dutch Colonial and Postcolonial Literature.

 

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