Jeroen Dewulf

The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo

The Forgotten History of America's Dutch-Owned Slaves

University Press of Mississippi 2017

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in AnthropologyNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network February 27, 2017 James Stancil

The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves (University Press of Mississippi, 2016) presents the history of...

The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves (University Press of Mississippi, 2016) presents the history of the nation’s forgotten Dutch slave community and free Dutch-speaking African Americans from seventeenth-century New Amsterdam to nineteenth-century New York and New Jersey and also develops a provocative new interpretation of one of America’s most intriguing black folkloric traditions, Pinkster. The author rejects the usual interpretation of this celebration of a “slave king” as a form of carnival. Instead, he shows that it is a ritual rooted in mutual-aid and slave brotherhood traditions. By placing these traditions in an Atlantic context, he identifies striking parallels to royal election rituals in slave communities elsewhere in the Americas, and traces these rituals to the ancient Kingdom of Kongo and the impact of Portuguese culture in West-Central Africa.

The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves also suggests the necessity for an increased focus on the substantial contact that many Africans had with European primarily Portuguese cultures before they were shipped as slaves to the Americas. The book has already garnered honors as the winner of the Richard O. Collins Award in African Studies, the New Netherland Institute Hendricks Award, and the Clague and Carol Van Slyke Prize.

Jeroen Dewulf is associate professor of Dutch studies at the University of California at Berkeley, and director of the school’s Institute of European Studies. In addition to The Pinkster King and the King of Kongo: The Forgotten History of America’s Dutch-Owned Slaves, he is also the author of Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation and co-editor of Shifting the Compass: Pluricontinental Connections in Dutch Colonial and Postcolonial Literature. His current research focuses on the connections between African-American culture in New Orleans and West African traditions, and will also soon be published in book form.


James Stancil is an independent scholar, freelance journalist, and the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area non-profit dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people.

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