St. Maarten participates in Unesco Conference on intangible heritage

POSTED: 02/23/12 2:26 PM

GREAT BAY – Eight representatives from the Dutch Caribbean islands, including Bonaire, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba, participated in a Unesco Conference on intangible heritage convention in Deurne, Netherlands from February 15 to February 17. This Dutch Caribbean delegation was organized by the Naam of Curacao, and sponsored by the Mondriaan Funds through Regeling KulturA. Overall, this conference was facilitated by the Netherlands center for folk culture, the ministry of education, culture and sciences (OCW), and the cultural participation funds, with more than 100 delegates from various nations represented. The chief of Unesco’s intangible heritage section was also present. St. Maarten was represented by Dr. Jay Haviser of the St. Maarten Archaeological Center (SIMARC).

The primary purpose of the conference was to inform participants about the details of the Unesco convention for intangible heritage and stimulate all state parties to sign the convention. Intangible heritage are those aspects of national heritage that do not have a physical-material expression, such as; language, dance, music, traditions, rituals, etc. Being intangible, these cultural traits are often lost or overlooked in national culture preservation programs, therefore the Unesco convention was created for their identification, inventory and preservation.

At the closing of the conference, the Dutch Caribbean delegates had a separate meeting with the various Netherlands counterparts, to seek a format of cooperation and exchange for the protection of intangible heritage. One of the potential cooperative trans-national intangible heritage links was noted with ‘Carnival’, while St. Maarten submitted ‘St. Marten English’ and ‘Ponum Dance’ as two potential national nominations.

“It is now paramount that St. Maarten formally establish its own Unesco national commission office, for the continuity of Unesco international cooperation, due to the fact that after 10-10-10 the Netherlands Antilles Unesco national commission was dismantled, and Curacao subsequently formed its own national commission,” a release from Haviser states.

The government has already begun the process to create this commission locally by placing advertisements to recruit a secretary general and staffer.

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