Production & Research

Bloedsuiker

Een bewogen geschiedenis
Geschiedenis in beweging

2021-2023
Suriname



In collaboration with:
Frank Kanhai, Waldo Koendjbiharie, Tjetan Lalbiharie, Bas van de Goor Foundation, National Archive Suriname, Sugar House Studios (Younes Bouadi, Sam van Twisk, Erica Gargaglione)

Supported by
Funds voor Cultuur Participatie





Bloedsuiker is an exploration of innovative strategies for diabetes prevention and reduction, integrating community engagement and political and cultural advocacy, in particular within Surinamese and Dutch-Surinamese communities.

Existing diabetes prevention programs in the Netherlands, as the National Diabetes Challenge, include the implementation of walking groups within communities with non-western background. As some of these groups expressed the wish to initiate walks in Suriname as well, the project aimed at facilitating the organization of such initiatives in collaboration with walk organizer Frank Kanhai, the Bas van de Goor Foundation, the Surinamese National Archive, and other local organizations like Vriendin Van Nickerie and the Diaspora Party.

The operational framework in which the whole project has been designed and prototyped is that of a campaign. This entails the development of interdisciplinary methodologies on the spot and ad hoc strategies, in order to face the complexities of issues like diabetes, especially in countries situated in the global South where replicating effective Western solutions is not only impractical but also impossible, as these are deemed unaffordable even for Western countries themselves. Yet these countries strive to enhance their healthcare systems, and the drive to positive change originates from the very grassroots of their communities.

The activities organized in Suriname included two walks, first in Nickerie and subsequently in Lelydorp, and an exhibition at the National Archive in Paramaribo. An important aspect of Bloedsuiker is in fact to highlight socio-historical and cultural narratives as part of the factors influencing a community’s health conditions, from here the title “Bloedsuiker: Een bewogen geschiedenis, geschiedenis in beweging” ("Blood Sugar: A turbulent history, history in motion"). The exhibition at the National Archive compared the prices of sugar during slavery in Suriname with the prices of sugar today: from the bloody trade of life, labor and sugar cane within the management of the plantation system to the high and costly rates of diabetes (“suikerziekte”) that modern healthcare tries to manage today. The exhibition included pictures by photographer Waldo Koendjbiharie, images from the archive, and migration documents from Frank Kanhai’s personal archive.

The project garnered enthusiastic responses from politicians and public figures, including President Chan Santokhi, who expressed their interest in further collaborations.






















Photography: Waldo Koendjbiharie



© 2012, Bouadi Art Productions