'Quaco – My Life in Slavery', the first major graphic novel about the Dutch history of slavery, is now available in English, thanks to modern languages students at the University of Sheffield.
How can we bring to the fore the names and stories of the marginalised of colonial exploitation? How can the stories of the Dutch colonial legacy find its way to an international audience? Henriette Louwerse and Duco van Oostrum at the University of Sheffield work with students to translate the national discourse of Dutch history and culture into a shared transatlantic story. Focal point is Quaco, the enslaved footboy of British-Dutch Captain John Gabriel Stedman.
The story of the enslaved boy Quaco, as described by his owner, the Dutch-Scottish army officer John Gabriel Stedman, puts the history of slavery in the Dutch colonies into a multilingual and transatlantic perspective.
Dutch Studies students wonder: "Is it appropriate for white students to translate texts about Black experiences of slavery?"
The 'multicultural' love story of John Stedman and the mulatto slave Joanna in 18th-century Surinam is shown to have a double significance: on the one hand their relationship symbolises the power of love that makes it possible to overcome racial barriers, while on the other hand it is made painfully clear that in a colonial system without freedom there can be no question of true love.