Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Antoinette T. Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kevin A. Yelvington, D.Phil.

Committee Member

Diane Wallman, Ph.D.


Community engagement, Dutch Caribbean, Heritage, History, Museums


Presenting a history of slavery that resonates with multiple audiences and serves necessary educational goals, while still creating sufficient appeal to attract visitors and remain sustainable is an enormous task faced by museums in post-colonial spaces across the world. The Museum Kura Hulanda in Curaçao finds itself in an unenviable position of maintaining a vast collection compiled by its founder, navigating the complexities of the 400-year legacy of Dutch involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and sustaining its position within the local business and tourist economy of Curaçao.

Focusing on the exhibitions at the Museum Kura Hulanda as a site of analysis, this research explores how African and Dutch heritage are presented in a specific museum in the Dutch Caribbean; in particular, how these heritages intersect – or not - in the Museum’s presentation and interpretation of the transatlantic slave trade. Viewing the Museum’s exhibits through the lens of the authorized heritage discourse and conceptualizations of erasure and silences, and using Cubitt’s (2011) discussion of “atrocity materials” as a tool of analysis, this exploratory and interpretive qualitative case study critically assesses the modes of presentation in the Museum; the impact and potential impact of the Museum’s displays on its visitors in view of historical and contemporary issues of race and racism in the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and the absence of local stories in favor of a more global approach to the Museum’s displays. The analysis concludes with a recommendation for further research into the utilization of community engagement as a strategy for rethinking exhibit space, displays, and narratives to potentially provide a space for local people to engage with and relate the stories of Afro-Curaçaoans.