On the Spot: Marjoleine Kars

‘As an immigrant, I wanted to understand the roots of my adopted country.’

Map of the Berbice colony, with a story in cartouche about the uprising of 1763. Engraving published by Reinier and Josua Ottens, September 1763. Zeeland Archives.

Why are you a historian of early America?

As an immigrant, I wanted to understand the roots of my adopted country.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you?

That nothing ever repeats itself.

Which history book has had greatest influence on you?

The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill. 

What book in your field should everyone read?

The Common Wind by Julius Scott.

Which moment would you most like to go back to?

Strangely, I don’t have that desire to time travel.

Which historian has had the greatest influence on you?

Peter H. Wood, my PhD adviser.

Which person in history would you most like to have met? 

Kofi, the leader of the 1793 Berbice slave rebellion.

How many languages do you have? 

Dutch, English and German; some French and Spanish. I lack any knowledge of non-European languages.

What is the most common misconception about your field? 

That freedom characterised the American colonies; slavery did.

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