Guest Post: Resistance and Adjustment in Suriname: A Durable Eighteenth-Century Cultural Schism

This is the fourth post in The Junto’s roundtable on the Black Atlantic. The first was by Marley-Vincent Lindsey, the second was by Mark J. Dixon, and the third was by Kristin O’Brassill-Kulfan. D. S. Battistoli is a rural development practitioner, working in West Africa and the Caribbean. He holds a B.A. in English literature from Binghamton University, and, since 2011, has more than a thousand days’ field experience among the Saamaka Maroons of Suriname, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and later independently.

mcleod-bookCynthia McLeod’s Hoe Duur Was De Suiker, published in 1987 in the middle of Suriname’s Interior War, was the country’s first bestselling novel and a sort of foundational myth for the Creole population of the country.[1] The book takes its name from Voltaire’s famous rejoinder from Candide, “C’est à ce prix que vous mangez du sucre en Europe.”[2] The plantation colonies of the Caribbean took turns being the richest, and also the most violent and exploitative toward the blacks who produced the wealth; for much of the eighteenth century, the distinction belonged to Suriname. Continue reading