Short introduction about Mutual Cultural Heritage & Dutch Policy.
Over the centuries, the predecessor of the Netherlands, the Dutch Republic, has developed close ties with many countries. It started with the expansion of global trade. This ambition resulted in the founding of the first privately owned companies in the world, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1602 and the Dutch West India Company (WIC) in 1621. These enterprises evolved from, or started in, trading posts at many locations in both the eastern and western hemispheres. In some cases, Dutch influence went beyond trading, and several countries were colonised. The former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), South Africa and Suriname were colonies until 1945, 1806 and 1975, respectively. The colonisation process resulted in a great deal of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, collectively referred to as ‘Mutual Cultural Heritage’ (MCH).
The Dutch government has developed a policy on MCH in its relationships with eight priority countries. These countries are Brazil, Ghana, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Suriname, but there are many more countries with which the Netherlands shares MCH.
MCH is an inherent result of migration. Dutch ‘interventions’ created many migration streams, starting with Europeans who set off to search for Asia and the Americas in the 16th century. Other migration flows followed, resulting from the slave trade between Africa and the Americas, but also to and within Asia, contract labour in both Asia and South America and banishment.
The legacy of these migration flows is cultural heritage. The legacy can be both tangible as well as intangible heritage. Tangible heritage comprises archives, shipwrecks, monuments, sites, cultural landscapes, as well as plantations and city structures, whilst intangible heritage comprises stories, names, rituals, music, traditions and language.
As a result of these migration flows, MCH is inherently multilateral. Most continents are connected to all of the others through these migration flows. These ties make MCH an interesting topic to discuss, research, access and present. Examples are the contract labourers who travelled in the 19th century from Java (Indonesia), to Suriname and then back to Java or to the Netherlands in the 20th century. Jewish communities that migrated to the Dutch Republic in the 17th century travelled to Brazil and went on to Suriname, the Antilles and the United States.
Because so many countries are involved in MCH, its interpretations may vary widely, particularly since MCH is often the result of one people oppressing another in the form of slavery, contract labour, indentured labour and banishment. One issue is which people can claim the heritage that is the subject of the discussion, which means that differing opinions about the MCH enrich it by incorporating multiple perceptions into the discussion.
What kind of MCH?
MCH embraces both tangible heritage, such as archives, and intangible heritage. The largest Dutch East India Company archive is kept in the National Archive of Indonesia, for example. Forts are everywhere along the shores around the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Towns such as Recife, Colombo and Cape Town have similar town planning and cultural landscapes because they were based around plantations and similar establishments. Intangible MCH components include stories like those of the African Anansi, which have similar counterparts in South America, as well as traditions in music, dance, clothing, oral history and language.
Koers kiezen; Meer samenhang in het internationaal cultuurbeleid; Brief internationaal cultuurbeleid. Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschappen en Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Den Haag, 10 May 2006
International culture policy
Ruim baan voor culturale diversiteit. Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschappen, Den Haag, 1999
International culture policy, cultural diversity
Raamwerk gemeenschappelijk cultureel erfgoed. Kamerstuk 27.032, no. 2, Den Haag, 26 April 2000
Mutual cultural heritage, policy
Verslag consultatie internationaal cultuurbeleid; De plaats van cultureel erfgoed binnen het internationaal cultuurbeleid. Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, Den Haag, 28 May 2004
International culture policy, cultural heritage
Verstooid verleden. Kamerstukken 1996-1997, no. 25.320, Den Haag, April 1997
Mutual cultural heritage, policy
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This website is part of and is managed by the Netherlands Institute for Heritage
This website is part of, and is managed by, The Netherlands Institute for Heritage.
As a national institution for cultural heritage, The Netherlands Institute for Heritage focuses on the transfer of knowledge and innovation in that field. The Netherlands Institute for Heritage promotes meetings between organisations (operating both within and outside the field of heritage) to address current societal issues, encourage reflection and organise knowledge exchanges and debates.
This website is sponsored by the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science
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