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Open Access ‘Er is geen recht voor ons…’

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‘There is no justice for us…’: Van Hogendorp’s abolitionist play Kraspoekol (1800) as a trial against slavery

Theatre plays in which social abuses are criticised often display striking parallels to the civic court. Both in trials and theatre performances the complaining party is positioned against someone who defends the accused person or issue, each propagating different viewpoints towards a case, whereupon a judge has to decide on the matter. In the early modern era, plays served as experimental sites to conduct (fictional) cases. When the theatre curtain comes down, the audience is incited to express its opinion on the case that was staged. The case that takes central stage in this article is the accusation of Dutch colonial slavery in Dirk van Hogendorp’s antislavery drama Kraspoekol, of de slaaverny (1800). This play was highly controversial and its performance in The Hague caused great tumult. Drawing on studies of early modern and contemporary theatre, this contribution will examine the interlace of Kraspoekol and legal practice by looking at accusations (by slaves and abolitionist characters) and defences (by slave master Kraspoekol). The article addresses how the combination of showing and phrasing injustice might encourage Kraspoekol’s audience to ascribe itself the role by the judge and to condemn not only the wrongful treatment of the characters of Kraspoekol, but the entire slavery institution.
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Keywords: Dirk van Hogendorp; Enlightenment; law and literature; slavery; theatre

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sarah Adams studeerde Historische Taal- en Letterkunde aan de Universiteit Gent. Zij bereidt aan diezelfde universiteit een doctoraatsproject voor over theater en abolitionisme rond 1800., Email: [email protected] 2: Kornee van der Haven doceert historische Nederlandse letterkunde aan de Universiteit Gent. Momenteel werkt hij aan een onderzoek naar het 18de-eeuwse epos in relatie tot het militaire denken van de Verlichting., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: February 1, 2016

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  • Internationale Neerlandistiek is het wetenschappelijke tijdschrift van de Internationale Vereniging voor Neerlandistiek. Het Nederlandstalige tijdschrift bevordert de dialoog tussen alle wetenschappers die werkzaam zijn op het gebied van de internationale neerlandistiek. Internationale Neerlandistiek richt zich op de Nederlandse (en Zuid-Afrikaanse) taal- en letterkunde in ruime zin, en heeft daarnaast aandacht voor interculturele aspecten van deze subdisciplines, communicatiewetenschap, didactiek en nieuwe technologie in de vakbeoefening, het verloop van canoniseringsprocessen, vertalen, culturele studies en voor de cultuur van de Lage Landen. Het tijdschrift heeft qua vraagstelling, methode en object een internationaal vergelijkende, en qua auteurs, lezers en verspreiding een internationale dimensie.

    Internationale Neerlandistiek is the scholarly journal of the International Association for Neerlandistiek. Internationale Neerlandistiek is a Dutch language, peer-reviewed journal with an international focus. The journal aims to improve the discussion in international Dutch (including South-African) linguistics and literature, in the broadest sense, including intercultural aspects of subdisciplines, communication studies, translation, cultural studies and the culture of the Low Countries in general.

    The journal is published in Open Access, with the following Creative Commons copyright license: Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

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