Manifesto What the FARO Convention means for St. Eustatius

  • okt 2022
  • Machteld Linssen
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  • 877
Machteld Linssen
Praktijk | Visie Faro in NL

Faro is an opportunity to shape an inclusive and community-based approach to heritage on Sint Eustatius that includes expressions of Afro-Caribbean culture, and to embed this approach in heritage policy. Encapsulated in one sentence, the message of the Manifesto is: What the FARO Convention means for Sint Eustatius. The Manifesto has been drafted by the Sint Eustatius Afrikan Burial Ground Alliance, an action group that was initially set up to oversee the careful handling of cemeteries and the remains of enslaved Africans on the island. The Alliance takes a broad approach to tangible and intangible heritage – including, for example, traditional medicine and ways of life.

An inclusive, community-based approach to heritage will contribute to the emancipation of cultural identity and to reinforcing the position and interconnectedness of local people with an African background; it is seen as way of honouring their ancestors. This not only means preserving what is there, but also rediscovering and re-appropriating. The Alliance wants the communities to take control of this process themselves (in collaboration with and with the support of experts), to discover for themselves from their own perspectives, to take the initiative themselves. This process will also bring opportunities for people from the community to acquire knowledge and skills.

Under this vision, an inclusive and community-based approach to heritage will result in the protection and careful handling of the cemeteries of enslaved people, a heritage collection that is more representative, and polyphony in the significance of heritage. This can be regarded as a process of structural repair. The approach will also contribute to improving the adverse psychosocial situation that has resulted from the enduring mental impact of colonization: recovery in the sense of 'healing'.

Linked to this vision, in the Manifesto the Alliance provides an overview of activities that they themselves are developing or wish to see in the future. Examples of the former include a project entitled ‘Make the Connection’, in which residents link their own surnames to names in colonial records, a project in the making that is designed to support the discovery of ancestral heroes, and an application for the ‘Slave Route Project / Routes of Enslaved People’ at UNESCO. Examples of the latter are a new inventory of the heritage of Sint Eustatius and the implementation of the recommendations of the Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) report, such as a protocol on how to approach as-yet-undiscovered sites.

The full Manifesto is attached to this message.