Batavia Publishing:  The Chinese in Suriname

A special publication by Batavia Publishing:

De Chinezen in Suriname

Een geschiedenis van immigratie en aanpassing 1853 – 2000

(The Chinese in Suriname: A history of

 immigration and adaptation 1853 - 2000)

by Dr. G.C. Zijlmans en H.A. Enser

328 pages, profusely illustrated. Quarto (A4) size, cloth binding, dust-jacket.    ISBN 90 806 479 34     Price: € 59,50

The club-house of the Kong Ngie Tong during its official opening in 1885 (photographed by F.P. de Veer)

Merchant H. Chin Ten Fung and spouse, circa 1890 (collection J.R.P.J. Chin Ten Fung)

The firm Ma Ajong in Paramaribo, circa 1910. Standing in the door-way the founder and first owner Ma-Ajong (collection A.E. Ma Ajong)

    In the 19th century - during the 1850s and 1860s - about 2500 Chinese emigrated to Suriname. The vast majority was employed as contract labourers on the plantations. After the expiration of their contracts many entered the trade sector, mostly the food retail trade. Thus, the so-called ‘Chinese shop’ became common in Suriname. Later on, more Chinese emigrants arrived in Suriname as free labourers, traders, or shop assistants, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Through the arrival of large numbers of labourers in the 1990s, the population group increased to more than 10.000 in the year 2000.

Of old, despite the small size of their group, the Chinese have put a mark, econo- mically and culturally, on Surinamese society. For a long time they held leading positions in the middle-sized and small business sectors, and the tens of thousands of usually well- trained descendants - full blooded or mixed-blood (‘half-Chinese’) - entered all social sectors. Moreover, the Surinamese population, which has always been very receptive to outside influences, absorbed various customs of Chinese origin. The still continuing im- migration implies that, in the future, the Chinese element will be present in increasingly emphatic ways in many sectors of the society.

In this book a survey is given of nearly one and a half centuries of immigration and adaptation of Chinese in Suriname. The attention focuses in detail on various economical, social and cultural developments which occurred within the Chinese population section. Among other aspects, attention is given to demographic developments, the position of the Chinese in Surinamese trade and industry, their associations and newspapers, church life, political activity, identity, manners and customs, and Surinamese adult and youth li- terature in which Chinese people are figuring. Furthermore it is described what happened to the thousands of Surinamese Chinese who emigrated to the Netherlands since the 1960s.

All references and other sources are fully acknowledged. In addition, a comprehensive bibliography, chronological table (with a translation into English), summaries (Dutch and English), and indexes of names and subjects have been inserted. The book includes 100 photographs and many other pictures from the years 1875-2001, and advertisements used by Chinese enterprises from this period.

Dr. Govert Zijlmans (Rotterdam, 1950) studied sociology and government sciences at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He wrote articles on the civil administration in the Netherlands East Indies during the 1940s and a thesis on the Civil Service Corps in Java during the period 1945-1950. Besides his historical research, he is active as an antiquarian bookseller since 1984 and also, since 2001, as a publisher.

Hugo Enser (Paramaribo, 1932) made researches into literature and archival records concerning Suriname’s history. He and Michiel van Kempen compiled a survey of the Surinamese newspapers, and their find-spots, which were published from the 18th century. He made also research into the history of Suriname’s publishing- and printing-offices and, sometimes, genealogical research.

Order        Errata regarding the first edition (Dutch)        Home