Rooted in two Countries? Migrant Heritage, emplacement and the ‘Canon van Nederland’.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientific


Rooted in two Countries? Migrant Heritage, emplacement and the ‘Canon van Nederland’.
In the cultural heritage sector theorizing emplacement is considered to be vital for identity: “people need to anchor there identity concretely to a location (emplacement)” (Grever&Van Boxtel, 2014). The question is up to what extent this can also be true for migrants, whose roots are in two different places and who have a physical distance with regards to their motherland and part of their memories. In a study on ‘national histories’ as a incentive for identification and (private and collective) identities formation the importance of the history of the country of origin and the history of the country of residence was explored for high school students with a migratory background. Although the history of the country of origin was seen as important, the history of the own family scored even higher (Grever&Ribbens, 2007). In today’s migration debate in the Netherlands however, remarkably little attention is paid to the fact that in the past large groups of Dutch nationals were also migrants, who had to find their way in societies that were unfamiliar to them and often abide by their own ethnic identity. To depolarize the debate and to preserve the scattered migrant heritage, the Huygens ING is constructing a linked (open) dataset consisting of a collective biography of migrant(family) live events. The project’s primary research focus is on a use case of Dutch migrant families who migrated to Australia between 1949-1992. It could serve as a model for migrant data worldwide, both as a source of identity for migrant communities and as a resource for cross-disciplinary research for academia. In this paper we will elaborate on the fact that migrant heritage is both international and multi-facetted, in which official papers and registration systems complement more personal letters, photos and other memorabilia. All collections throw their own light on part of the migrant history, but individual migrants are usually aware of only a fraction of this complex of sources. The various heritage institutions also represent only one or a few of the aspects of this compiled image, which has a symbolizing and static effect on the public picture of migrants and their histories. We will report on a NIAS-Lorentz workshop we organized last year in which we have tried to come up with strategies to bring together all migrant heritage stakeholders with their migrant heritage interests and collections. The goal was to come up with strategies to connect collections without adding extra layers of interpretation. In this way we hope to compile a composite view of the migrants in which many perspectives are represented at the same time. But we will start our paper with critically engaging with the Canon and Australian initiatives on migrant heritage (Welcome Walls and Migrant Centres projects) and try to answer what they might look like through the lens of Dutch-Australians. 
References:Maria Grever en Carla Van Boxtel, Verlangen naar tastbaar verleden. Erfgoed, onderwijs en historisch besef (Hilversum, Verloren 2014)Maria Grever en Kees Ribbens, Nationale identiteit en meervoudig verleden. (WRR, Amsterdam University Press 2007).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2017


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