Journal of Ibero-Romance Creoles

Volume 3 (2012)

Linguistic evidence and historiography: the selection of slaves on Curaçao, 1650-1700 

Bart Jacobs (Universität Konstanz & Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

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Drawing on recent linguistic investigations on the origins of Papiamentu, this article aims to cast new light on an intriguing but hitherto unresolved socio-historical aspect of the initial decades of the Curaçaoan transit slave trade: the selection of slaves. In answer to the controversial question which slaves were kept on Curaçao rather than resold to third parties, we take a look at, and summarize, the body of linguistic evidence that Papiamentu is genetically related to Upper Guinea Portuguese Creole. This evidence, we believe, warrants the assumption that slaves from the Upper Guinea region were particularly sought out by Curaçaoan colonizers in the period between ca. 1650 and 1700. This assumption, in turn, allows us to hypothesize more effectively about the reasons why certain slaves were more fashionable than others in that particular period of Curaçao's history. 

Keywords: Curaçao, transit slave trade, Papiamentu, Upper Guinea Portuguese Creole, skin colour, Christianization