LH.20.014 – Atlantic Stories

Route: Living history

Cluster question: 047 How can we promote social cohesion in a society that is culturally and religiously diverse?

Over the past two decades, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have produced a sizable body of new knowledge about the ways in which the Netherlands shaped the Atlantic World, a historical space that connects Europe, West Africa, and the Americas. For the most part, however, this exciting research has reached only a relatively small audience of fellow academics. At the same time, the wider public in the Netherlands has become increasingly aware of, and vitally interested in, this Atlantic colonial past, particularly with regard to the history of slavery. Heritage institutions have begun developing exhibitions and digital media projects that seek to meet this public demand for knowledge, and pieces of this history have started to filter into the schools. Meanwhile, the year 2021 marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the West India Company, which played a central role in integrating the Atlantic World and leaving a Dutch imprint upon it. Our broad-based consortium brings together scholars, educators, heritage organizations, and diverse publics in the Netherlands, the United States, and the Greater Caribbean to co-create engaging, interactive digital projects about this common colonial past. Employing innovative methods of storytelling and story-making, our consortium aims to make these deep historical and cultural connections tangible and meaningful to a wide variety of audiences. Yet even as we seek to build new forms of connection that bridge the Atlantic, we also welcome and encourage open conversations about the colonial past and its meaning, relevance, and importance to contemporary communities within the Netherlands, its former colonies, and beyond. In the long run, we anticipate that these open conversations will help to promote social cohesion by fostering a better-informed, fairer, and more just society capable of addressing its colonial heritage in a forthright, honest, and collaborative way.


Atlantic World, Co-creation, colonialism, Cultural Heritage, digital storytelling, slavery


Organisation University of Groningen (RUG)
Name Dr. M.L. (Mark) Thompson
E-mail m.l.thompson@rug.nl