Creative Industries and Sustainable Protection of Cultural Heritage – Dutch Policies in the Post Conflict Middle East and North Africa

(This project ran from September 2012 to June 2013)

The Dutch government assists directly and indirectly (via the UN and the EU) in transitional developments in other countries, as is currently at stake in the Arab region (northern Africa and the Middle East), where five priority countries have been selected for specific support in their democratic transition process: Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Libya. Support focuses on economic growth (and a.o. employment of young people and women), democratization (free elections) and the building of a constitutional state (a.o. freedom of the media). This so-called ‘Matra-Zuid’ program also offers possibilities for projects in the fields of education, culture and media, provided that these contribute to the democratization process and long term processes of polity development.

CRISP (2012-2013) takes the Matra-Zuid program as its starting point, with a special focus on Dutch heritage cooperation with Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Libya. Heritage cooperation against cultural loss and for sustainable development is a multilateral process, engaging the cultural (public) sectors of both the target countries and the donor countries (in our case specifically the Netherlands). The experiences in Afghanistan and how Dutch involvement in Afghanistan resonated in the Dutch heritage sector, will provide a valuable starting point to develop our understanding of these two directions in cultural cooperation.

Research will be undertaken by two researchers, respectively embedded in the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, and the Netherlands National Commission for UNESCO. Marja van Heese investigates the UNESCO legal framework; Tessa VerLoren van Themaat, focuses on the heritage sector and researches international heritage cooperation. The first phase has been the preparation of the international expert meeting, organized by the Netherlands National Committee in the national Museum of Antiquities, Leiden, 17-18 December 2012.

Research will focus on:

  • Monitoring tools of UNESCO Conventions, the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural heritage and the potential of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Intangible Heritage Inventories for sustainable development.
  • Evaluation of national cultural policy: what happened in the five countries at stake.
  • How did the Dutch heritage sector respond to the intense Dutch (military) involvement in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2010 and how will Matra-Zuid resonate in the Netherlands.
  • Conclusions and recommendations.

Selected publications

CRISP project proposal, (april 2012, VU Amsterdam). [PDF]