Dutch Oil, Dominican Sugar and the Back Doors of the Caribbean Diaspora, 1910-1970

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Friday, March 24, 2023

2:30 pm


Open to the Public

Margo Groenewoud in conversation with Chelsea Schields

Headshots of Margo Groenewood and Chelsea Shields
Margo Groenewoud and Chelsea Schields. Image credits: Mural in San Pedro de Macoris by artist Nadal Walcot. Courtesy of Margo Groenewoud

The development of the oil industries on the Dutch Caribbean islands Curaçao (1918) and Aruba (1928) and the booming sugar industries in the Dominican Republic during the American occupation (1916-1924) triggered a heightened interaction between the islands that would last for decades. The initial intensification involved labor migration from the English and Papiamentu-speaking Dutch islands to the sugar factories of San Pedro the Macoris, and a steady stream of temporary sex workers from the Dominican Republic into the Dutch and Dutch-American oil towns of Curaçao and Aruba.

Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Dr. Margo Groenewoud (CUNY Dominican Studies Institute & University of Curaçao) studied the intensified interactions between the Dutch Caribbean and the Dominican Republic in times of occupations, Garveyism, dictatorship and the cold war. In this presentation she shares provisional findings that shed new light on policing and registration, and how this affected agency, belonging and citizenship of so far understudied and invisible groups within the Black diaspora.

The presentation is followed by a conversation led by CUNY Graduate School alumnus Dr. Chelsea Schields (University of California, Irvine). Her book Offshore Attachments: Oil and Intimacy in the Caribbean will be published by University of California Press in May 2023.

About the speakers

Margo Groenewoud is 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at The City College of New York and the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute. Based in the Dutch Caribbean since 2008, she obtained her PhD degree in Caribbean history at Leiden University and the University of Curaçao, where she is a senior lecturer. Recurrent themes in her scholarship are social exclusion, citizenship, migration and radicalism in the transnational Caribbean. Groenewoud recently published in Clio. Women Gender History, Small Axe and the Journal of Caribbean History. She is consultant for the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) and member of the editorial boards of CSA’s Caribbean Conjunctures and of the Brill Caribbean Studies series.

Chelsea Schields is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. Her scholarship explores the entwined histories of sexuality, energy, and empire in the twentieth-century Caribbean and Europe. She is the author of Offshore Attachments: Oil and Intimacy in the Caribbean (University of California Press, 2023) and, with Dagmar Herzog, coeditor of The Routledge Companion to Sexuality and Colonialism (Routledge, 2021). Recent articles have appeared in Radical History Review and Gender & History.

In collaboration with the Dominican Studies Institute, and co-sponsored by the CUNY Graduate Center History Program and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC) and La Casa de las Americas at LaGuardia Community College.

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