A journey within the journey


The year 1770 is very busy and full of work for Merianin: in order to collect new specimens she travels up the river beyond the forest and reaches some sugar cane plantations, the only crop that was grown in the country by Europeans. The journey to the hinterland always presented certain risks, especially due to the fact that , from the second half of the 17th century, former black slaves (called Maroons) had found refuge in the inland forests and often carried out guerrilla actions against European colonisers. In 1772, the latter launched a regular war against the former. Among the troops employed, there was that of the Scottish captain John Gabriel Stedman, who wrote a diary of his experience which was published upon his return to London. This book describes the landscapes, flora, fauna as well as the social practices of both indigenous African people, free and enslaved, and European settlers, with illustrations engraved by William Blake and Francesco Bartolazzi on the basis of drawings by Stedman himself. The volume records the situation in Suriname almost a century after Merianin’s expedition.

In the show  case, a map of Suriname from 1735 illustrates the distribution of plantations, representations of various stages of sugar processing, and images of enslaved men and women from texts and travel narratives by various authors.