The Doorsons

After ten years of searching for official records, delving into the few written resources and speaking to witnesses and descendants, anthropologist Roline Redmond tells the story, spanning two centuries, of her enslaved family.

Original title
De doorsons
Roline Redmond

In her search for answers, she considers herself a contemporary griot, a West African chronicler of family history: Who were her ancestors, what was their daily life like? How was colonial oppression passed down from generation to generation?

The Doorsons lived in freedom from 1873, but in great poverty. They were able to work their way up thanks to their enormous willpower and perseverance, often driven by women, protecting their offspring and using ancient rituals to heal the inherited pain of loss and longing.

Three women are central to this survival story: Redmond’s great-grandmother, a market vendor, her grandmother, a laundress (‘Back always bent, hands wrinkled from the water, face covered in droplets.’), and her daughter – Redmond’s mother – a seamstress. Though strong and independent, these generations of matriarchs exuded an air of loss, and a longing for connection with kin, both living and dead.

How do you pen a family history when there are almost no written sources? It’s almost impossible. Roline Redmond managed it anyway, and with great success.

NRC Handelsblad
Roline Redmond
Anthropologist Roline Redmond (b. 1949) wrote 'Zwarte mensen in kinderboeken' (1980), a study of the way black people are portrayed in children’s books.
Part ofNon-Fiction
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