PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Two Surinamese photojournalists, Ranu Abhelakh and Edward Troon, will on Wednesday launch “Beyond the Shopkeeper’s Counter; Images of Chinese Life in Suriname”.
This volume containing over 280 photos of the lives of people of Chinese heritage in Suriname and commemorates 160 years of Chinese settlement in the Dutch-Speaking Caribbean nation. “Beyond the Shopkeeper’s Counter” may be considered the first extensive photographic documentary of a ethno-cultural group in Suriname, a release on the book said.
The principle of this book by the two photojournalists is that photographs themselves should tell the stories of the people.
The photographers, Abhelakh and Troon, say they consistently pictured their subjects as Surinamese people.
The sinologist Paul Tjon Sie Fat reinforces the project with his introduction, brief photo texts, and thematic summaries at the end of every chapter.
He describes aspects of daily life, economic activities, and the annual celebrations of these special citizens and residents of Suriname.
The photo book is unique; it is the first Surinamese publication in two world languages, English and Chinese.
“The three makers are convinced that their product will counterbalance ethnic stereotyping — in this case of Chinese — in Suriname, as they show how fully integrated Chinese culture and heritage have become in the reality of Suriname; ‘Us’ can often hardly be distinguished from ‘Them,’” the release said.
Anyone interested in contemporary Suriname will be happy with ‘Beyond the Shopkeeper’s Counter”.
“With this book, which is a pictorial record of a particular period, we the authors hope to contribute to the documentation of one of the many facets of Surinamese identity,” the release further said.
Abhelakh has had training in journalism in Suriname, India and the USA, and works a photojournalist for Surinamese and international media. In 2010 she published her first book De Formule van de Surinaamse Identiteit (The Formula of Surinamese Identity).
Tjon Sie Fat completed his PhD thesis on New Chinese immigration in Suriname at the University of Amsterdam. He is a guest lecturer at the Anton de Kom University of Suriname publishes articles on Chinese identity, language and culture in international journals.
Troon, an engineer by training, has worked in journalism since 1985, and was founder of the Times of Suriname, the English edition of De Ware Tijd, and the Kompas weekly.
He is a freelance journalist and teaches photojournalism and graphic design at the Academy for Advanced Art and Cultural Education (AHKCO).
On Wednesday, the authors will elaborate on this photo book which they published by themselves with financial support of Surinamese companies and organizations.