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The Tropenmuseum in the Netherlands, one of Europe’s leading ethnographic museums, is to host an exhibition on Suriname Maroons, entitled ‘The Art of Survival’, from November 6, 2009 through May 9, 2010
Maroons have lived in Suriname for around three hundred years. Originally snatched from African and shipped to Suriname as slave labour for the Dutch, they managed to break free and sought shelter along the rivers in the bush. Some people say that they are the best preserved piece of African culture outside the African continent. But their culture has been constantly changing – right up to the present day.
Maroons had a lot to endure: wars, dispossession, floods, migration. The majority left the hinterland and settled in Paramaribo and the Netherlands. Some people have wondered if the Maroon culture is rapidly disappearing under the pressure of globalisation. But you could ask the same question about any culture. The Tropenmuseum did exactly this in the case of the Maroons and found itself among wood carvings and hip hop, in the city and the countryside, and in the company of gaaman chiefs, gangsters and gods.
The aesthetic quality and sheer quantity of the objects in the exhibitions will demonstrate the strength, splendour and the dynamics in Maroon culture. The many visual exhibits illustrate the non-material culture and the current developments. Together they tell a story of cultural resilience, threats, change, disappearance, renewal and forgetting, and offer just as many answers to the question of how a tiny culture like this is surviving in the age of globalisation.
The Tropenmuseum is part of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), a knowledge institute for international and intercultural collaboration.