Samenwerking Sarnámihuis en Werkgroep Hindostaanse Geschiedenis

Begin 2018 is in alle stilte in Suriname de Werkgroep Hindostaanse Geschiedenis opgericht. De initiatiefnemer is historica Tanya Sitaram. Tanya houdt zich al heel lang bezig met de geschiedenis van Hindostanen in Suriname. Ze is de hoofdverteller in de OHM-documentare Tetary over het leven en de strijd van Janey Tetary. Ze is vaker in andere documentaires opgetreden waar opnames worden gemaakt in het Nationaal Archief van Suriname. Haar scriptie voor haar mastersopleiding geschiedenis aan de Institute for Graduate Studies and Research (IGSR) gaat over Hindostaanse vrouwen tijdens contractarbeid en is gebaseerd op uitgebreid archiefonderzoek.

“Mijn belangstelling voor geschiedenis is van recente datum”, vertelt Tanya. “Op de middelbare school vond ik geschiedenis boring. Je moest alleen jaartallen leren. Geschiedenis werd ook heel saai overgebracht. Daarom heb ik bij de keuze van een vakkenpakket op de middelbare school, bewust een pakket gekozen waar geen geschiedenis bij zat.”

Tanya is rechten en journalistiek gaan studeren na haar middelbare school. In 2003 kwam ze te werken bij het Nationaal Archief Suriname (NAS) van het Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. We moest bezoekers helpen met hun archiefonderzoek. Menige documentairemaker uit Nederland en Suriname hebben haar als verteller ingeschakeld om over het archief te vertellen. In 2010 is ze vanuit het NAS begonnen met een masteropleiding geschiedenis aan IGSR. Ze combineerde haar werk met haar studie, die ze in 2016 heeft afgerond met een scriptie over Hindostaanse vrouwen.
Tanya: “Mijn archiefonderzoek heeft voor mij schokkende resultaten opgeleverd. Ik las dat Hindostaanse vrouwen in één huis samenleefden met meerdere mannen. Ik zag hoe ze ploeterden naast mannen op het veld, hoe hun leven vaak in gevaar was onder andere vanwege relatieproblemen. Jaloerse mannen die hun vrouw met benzine overgoten en in brand staken. Mannen die hun vrouwen met een houwer doodkapten of doodsloegen. Het zijn verschrikkelijke verhalen die ik niet kende. De geschiedenis die ik op school heb gekregen ging altijd over de (buitenlandse) geweldige mannen. Over de input van de vrouwen werd niets geschreven. Ik wilde meer weten over de geschiedenis van de vrouw, en meer nog de Hindostaanse vrouw.”

De werkgroep die Tanya heeft opgericht, heeft bescheiden doelstellingen: het bevorderen van wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar de geschiedenis van de Surinaams-Hindostaanse gemeenschap in en buiten Suriname en het bevorderen van publicaties en maatschappelijke discussies over deze geschiedenis.

De werkgroep heeft een samenwerking met het Sarnámihuis in Nederland om onderzoek te bevorderen en de resultaten daarvan te publiceren. Tanya: “Het gaat voorlopig om kleine uitgaven: brochures met informatie die gebaseerd is op archiefonderzoek. Maar we gaan ook nadenken over andere vormen van publicaties met beeld en geluid, dus niet alleen print-publicaties.”

Het Sarnámihuis zal de samenwerking met de werkgroep de komende jaren op een systematische manier opbouwen.

 

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