Fellow 2018/2019

Jessica de Abreu

Jessica de Abreu is an anthropologist, curator, and activist who graduated from the departments of Social and Cultural Anthropology and Culture, Organization and Management at VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Her passionate commitment to the field of African Diaspora has led to research on upward social mobility in New York, Amsterdam, and London. Her recent research project on organizational anthropology focused on social entrepreneurship in Black British communities from a postcolonial perspective. She is a board member at New Urban Collective and co-founder of The Black Archives, both Amsterdam.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

Anthropologist, activist, and curator Jessica de Abreu’s research trajectory focuses on how Black women, particularly from the organization Vereniging Ons Suriname (VOS), fit into the legacy of Black women’s activism in the Caribbean and Netherlands. VOS is one of the oldest migrant self-organizations in the Netherlands, celebrating its hundred year anniversary in 2019. While founders and activists such as Julius Jacob Gemmel, Eddy Bruma, and Otto Huiswoud are familiar names, little is known about the women within the organization and how they built an anti-colonial movement, a community, and other political work in the Netherlands. This research encourages intergenerational work to develop intersectional perspectives around archives, following the question: How did Black women’s activism develop at VOS between the 1940s and 1990s, and how was art used as a tool for education and social change?

Especially considering discourses around colonial history and its marginalized legacy, art as a space for social change can give voice to these silenced archives and histories. Moreover, the collaboration between art and postcolonial archives gives further meaning around healing from hate, erasure, and struggle.