“Ethnicity and nation building in postcolonial Suriname”

This special edition of the Journal of Caribbean History is in honour of University of the West Indies (UWI) Emerita Professor of History, Bridget Brereton. Guest editor is Brian L. Moore. Authors of this special issue are Carl Campbell, Patricia Mohammed, B.W. Higman, Woodville Marshall, Philip A. Howard, Franklin W. Knight and Rosmearijn Hoefte.


Rosemarijn Hoefte’s essay entitled “Mama Sranan’s Children: Ethnicity and Nation Building in Postcolonial Suriname” parallels Bridget Brereton’s research on Trinidad. Indeed, because the two societies are multiracial, there are many structural similarities which have been discussed in the work of both Hoefte and Brereton. Hoefte’s paper looks at the intersection of race/ethnicity/class and politics in post-independence Suriname, and she uses recent political developments to assess the appropriateness of the plural society thesis advanced by R.A.J. van Lier in 1949. Although Brereton did take note of the plural society theory in her work on Trinidad, she did not engage it directly.

Hoefte, however, does; and she argues here that although ethnicity continues to influence political alignments, it no longer has the force of old, and class interests are now more prominent in determining people’s statuses and attitudes in twenty-first-century Surinamese society.

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