Rosemarijn Hoefte, Suriname: Migration dynamics, ethnic relations and cultural policies
Suriname: Migration dynamics, ethnic relations and cultural policies Suriname is a prime example of a Caribbean colonial creation, built under European hegemony by enslaved Africans and Asian indentured labourers and their descendants. As in many postcolonial societies the state preceded the nation. History is a key arena for contestation in a dynamic and complex society. Original presence or the time of arrival, economic contributions, suffering and hardship, and loyalty are arguments to support claims on the nation by different groups. Ethnic hierarchies and positive self-ascription while disparaging other groups, are all part of such hegemonic strategies. The idea of a plural society is largely a colonial creation as well. Ethnicity was institutionalised through colonial policy as various policies by the colonial government and economic enterprises served to establish, legitimise and maintain ethnic boundaries, whether to “divide-and-rule” or to “safeguard the culture” of different population groups. This presentation will look at this background as well as migration dynamics and their effect on the nation; the influence of transnational communities; and the role of the Netherlands in shaping cultural practices, while highlighting language as an important aspect of sociocultural policy. It will address how the role of the state in colonial and postcolonial society is crucial to the process of inclusion and exclusion of migrants. A brief comparison with sociocultural policies in the Dutch Caribbean islands will allow some questioning of whether political independence is a game-changing factor in the cultural influence of the (former) colonial metropole.