Piet Emmer

Dutch historian

Pieter Cornelis (Piet) Emmer (Haarlem, 17 October 1944) is a Dutch Emeritus Professor of Colonial History at Leiden University, specializing in European Expansion and related slavery and immigration.

Piet Emmer (2018)

Quotes edit

  • I continue to marvel at this. We got incredibly angry when the city of Palmyra, Syria, was destroyed by IS because the city was reminiscent of pre-Muslim times, shall we say. And I see this as an extension of that. It is nonsense to think that you can erase a past that you don't like.
  • A give-and-take situation was created between the two sides so that that slavery could continue to exist.
  • The problem is that, in our view, the system (Slavery) is so reprehensible that you really shouldn't talk about it. I think you should.
    • Slavery historian: new Slavery Museum Amsterdam is missed opportunity. Emmer wants to make it clear that they became slaves against their will. But they ended up in an economy in North America, for example, where there was terrible earning potential, and that also reflected on the slaves. They had a material advantage and that also contributed, according to Emmer, to the fact that slavery was able to last for so many centuries.
  • There is also emotional literature about the occupation period. That war was not cheerful in the Netherlands, but in my school days, everything was so wonderfully exaggerated, especially the role of the resistance. The facts were pushed aside and if that had continued, we would never have come to any new insights. If we had been blinded by Anne Frank, we would never have discovered that the Netherlands did not play a heroic role at all during that time.
  • Incidentally, it was Europeans living in Europe who wanted to abolish the slave trade. They wanted to end it all over the world. So also ín Africa and also in the Middle East. It was just important to come up with arguments to justify such an abolition. One of the arguments devised at the time was that our slave trade threatened to deform entire countries. But that argument, as it now turns out, is historically incorrect. If you look at the quantities and the fact that slavery existed long before the Europeans appeared on the coast there, and that it continued even after the Europeans stopped doing it, I see no scientific arguments at present to attribute primary responsibility to the slave trade for Africa's current economic position in the world.
  • That it was precisely productive forces that left is not at all unique. It happens in all migrations. If you look at the period between 1500 and 1900, when that Atlantic slave trade took place, many more people left Europe exactly in the same age range, without us in Europe complaining about losing productive forces.
  • Slavery is a common thing. We should not be ashamed of that at all. What we should try to explain is why there was no longer slavery in Western Europe after 1450, but there was still slavery elsewhere in the world. I would venture the proposition that with slavery, Western Europe would have become even richer and grown faster economically than without slavery.
  • I think it is important that when water boils at 100 degrees, whether someone is white or black, that someone sees that it boils at 100 degrees.
  • My argument in my book is that except for the slave revolt in Haiti, slave revolts did not contribute to slave liberation, but the decision to end it was made in capitals in Europe. Again, I think thinking fundamentally about slavery is really a Western thing. And slave revolts did not contribute to that.
  • Both are terrible, the Holocaust and slavery. Very superficially, the comparison can also be made: you were transported and segregated. The difference is that during transport it was advantageous for the Germans to let as many Jews die as possible, racist profit I call it in my book. Not so for the slave traders: they caught a lot of money for living slaves, not for dead ones. They had to stay alive during the crossing.

Quotes about Piet Emmer edit

  • Professor, you are creating an atmosphere that is quite inopportune at the moment. The Netherlands is no longer white alone, half of all Amsterdammers are black. For those black people, it is high time that slavery is processed. Otherwise, we will not achieve a harmonious society. Now we are finally allowed to place a monument, a breakthrough has been achieved as far as white awareness is concerned, you come with your watering down. You are a missionary in the service of relativisation.
  • What Emmer calls science is the international code that scientific work must adhere to. This is a tradition that was born in the West but has become international. There are very different stories and they are also scientific, but African or Asian. That does not meet Western codes.
  • Mr Emmer, you should not trivialise the problem. How about the social consequences? If you want to understand racism, you have to understand where the racist system comes from. If you know the slavery system, then you know that inferiority had to exist there to do that.
  • But surely you cannot deny that the person Emmer, a white, male scientist in his 50s, born in the Netherlands, does not also factor in. Of course that matters, especially on a subject like this. Let's agree: there is no such thing as a hard truth here.'

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