The Colonial Legacy Conference

The Colonial Legacy of the Treaty of Utrecht: 1713-1863-2013

June 21-22, 2013

Utrecht, the Netherlands

Check the video archive of the conference here.

In 2013, the city of Utrecht was celebrating the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht. This treaty marked the end of almost two centuries of (religious) wars and conflicts in Europe, and its colonies in Africa, Asia and the Americas. The Treaty of Utrecht is rightly considered as an important marker in European and even world history. Paradoxically however, many social-cultural historical aspects of the treaty are still relatively under-researched.

This is especially true for the aspect of the Treaty of Utrecht that concerned negotiation between various European countries about their overseas colonies. During the negotiations, it was agreed that Great Britain received asiento: the right to deliver slaves to the Spanish for a period of thirty years, with which British slave traders and smugglers got access to the traditionally closed Spanish markets in the Americas. This human ‘merchandise’ was shipped to the Spanish and British colonies in the ‘New World’.

As the year 2013 not only commemorated the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, but also marked the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by the Dutch in 1863, the ‘Colonial Legacy Conference’ aimed to shed a new light on these crucial dates in European and Dutch history. The conference examined the colonial and post-colonial heritage of the Treaty of Utrecht and assessed its legacy in contemporary scholarship on human trafficking, in the study of cultural memories of historical traumas, in practices of reconciliation and in popular culture.