Otto en Hermina TBA
9 September 2023

Otto and Hermina Huiswoud: Modern Black Diasporic Radicals

Public Event: 8 - 9 September 2023

This two-day symposium organized by Small Axe, International Institute of Social History, the RCMC, and The Black Archives will take place on Friday the 8th of September at the International Institute of Social History, and on Saturday the 9th of September at The Black Archives in Amsterdam. Confirmed participants include: Leslie James, Mano Delea, Guno Jones, Holger Weiss, Margaret Stevens, Mitchell Esajas, Jessica de Abreu, Minkah Makalani, and Pepijn Brandon. 

For more information, please visit the registration link below. 

Image reference: Otto en Hermina Huiswoud, photo courtesy of The Black Archives. 

Symposium Description

In the history of Black internationalism, few trajectories involve as many sites of political organizing as those of Hermina and Otto Huiswoud. Hermina participated in organizations spanning from the Harlem Tenants League in New York to the Lenin Institute in Moscow. While Otto remains principally remembered as the only Black person present at the founding meeting of the Communist Party USA, he also spearheaded recruitment campaigns in the Caribbean, and made his mark as chair of the Vereniging Ons Suriname (“Our Suriname Association”) in Amsterdam after WWII. The symposium brings together an international set of scholars discussing questions to do with the Huiswouds’ relationship to Pan-Africanism, their work for radical publications such as The Negro Worker and organizations such as International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers, their legacy in the contemporary Dutch Caribbean, and their archive at The Black Archives in Amsterdam.


Friday, 8 September 2023

Location: International Institute of Social History

9.30–10.00am Introductions

Welcome by Leo Lucassen, Pepijn Brandon, Wayne Modest, David Scott

Introductory remarks by Mayaki Kimba

10.00-11.30 Leslie James

Paper Title: Beyond Antagonism: Otto and Hermina Huiswoud as Participants in Caribbean Anti-Colonial Radicalisms of the 1930s

Discussant: Dominque Ankoné

Moderator: David Scott

11.30-13.00 Mano Delea

Paper Title: Traces of Pan-Africanism in the Works and Lives of Otto and Hermina Huiswoud

Discussant: Zawdie Sandvliet

Moderator: David Scott

13.00–14.00 Lunch

14.00-15.30 Guno Jones

Otto Huiswoud, Anton de Kom and the Broader Critical Caribbean Tradition. Cross-Caribbean Critical Interactions and the Limits of Liberation

Discussant: Wayne Modest

Moderator: Pepijn Brandon

15.30–17.00 Holger Weiss

Otto Huiswoud and the Demise of the Red Atlantic

Discussant: David Grantsaan

Moderator: Pepijn Brandon


Saturday, 9 September 2023,

Location: The Black Archives


10.00-11.30 Margaret Stevens

From Primitive Accumulation to Cannibalized Dispossession: Standard Oil’s Jim Crow Lago Refinery on “One Happy Island,” 1925 to 1985

Discussant: Carine Zaayman

Moderator: Mitchell Esajas

11.30-13.00 Tour of Black Archives

13.00–14.00 Lunch

14.00–15.30 Mitchell Esajas and Phaedra Haringsma

Presentations on ongoing research by Mitchell Esajas and Phaedra Haringsma, followed by a panel with Mitchell Esajas, Phaedra Haringsma, and Hermine Haman

Moderator: Wayne Modest

15.30-17.00 Roundtable

Moderators: Minkah Makalani and Wayne Modest

Panelists: Mano Delea, Guno Jones, Margaret Stevens, Mitchell Esajas and Jules Rijssen