On July 5, 2019, Pakhuis de Zwijger organized a public debate to discuss the results of the research by Pepijn Brandon and Ulbe Bosma. Anthropoligist Linda Lemmen was asked to critically analyze their findings. In the past 5 years Pepijn and Ulbe investigated the impact of the transatlantic slavery on the Dutch economy. Their conclusion is that 5% of the Dutch economy was directly linked to slavery. Many Dutch mainstream media covered this news.
However, Linda argues that it is problematic that the average Dutchman (who doesn’t know history) now thinks that 95% of the economy is based on regular trade. According to her the media and the report gives the wrong impression that the majority of the Dutch economy was ‘clean’, as if the 95% was not related to colonial exploitation and robbery. Of course this is not true.
In particular because the researchers left out the financial contribution of the biggest colony of the Netherlands: the Dutch East Indies. Only in a footnote, on page 12 of the report, they refer to slavery in the Indonesian archipelago. That is why Linda concludes that the number of 5% is very misleading. Not only as it leaves out slavery in ‘the East’ but also because it leaves out the financial contribution of the colonized people around the globe after the formal abolition of slavery.