ICOMOS: Dutch Legacy in India. Past, Present and Future, 10 Feb. 2021
Vrijwel onbekend: sporen van Nederlandse aanwezigheid in met name de oostkust van India, zoals het Dutch Building in Odisha, een kerk in Bengalen, een Nederlandse en Armeense begraafplaats in Surat. Carel Tenhaeff, Dirk de Jong en Kaanan Thakkar gaan in op deze VOC erfenis , aangevuld met een videoboodschap uit Odisha met een oproep ons ‘shared heritage’ ook gezamenlijk te bewaren.
19:30 Welcome and introduction: Jean-Paul Corten & Daan Lavies
19:35 History and heritage: Odisha by Carel Tenhaeff
19:55 The Dutch in Bengal: Dirk de Jong
20:15 Short break
20:25 Video contribution by historian dr. Santosh Malua from the Ravenshaw University in Cuttack
20:40 Integrating contribution by shared heritage: The Case of Dutch and Armenian Cemetery in Surat, India: Kaanan Thakkar
History and Heritage: Odisha by Carel Tenhaeff
Like elsewhere, and like others, the Dutch established themselves along the Indian East-coast by setting up a chain of trade posts from South (the Coromandel) to North (Bengal) to obtain fresh water and food as well as ship repairs and rest, and where trade agreements could be struck with local authorities.
Commercially, carrying on towards Bengal was quite attractive. Unfortunately, going there was hazardous due to the climatic and health conditions, coastal erosion and sedimentation, and political trouble, both Indian and European. Because of all this, the Dutch had to leave Odisha, leaving hardly anything hardly anything behind.
This is explained and illustrated.
Eventually, though, we located two old Dutch buildings in (then) South Odisha. This shared heritage, and what we plan to do with it, is discussed after the intermission.
Ravenshaw University & Museum Geelvinck
This project will be executed in a joint effort by staff of Ravenshaw University / Cuttack and Museum Geelvinck. A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed on 27 February 2020.
The Dutch in Bengal: by Dirk de Jong
“PWD vandals destroy historic church”. This newspaper cutting airmailed from Calcutta in 1988 triggered my interest and action for the Dutch cultural heritage in India. It was the first time I heard about the fact that we have a history of nearly 200 years on the various coasts in India. I spent many free days in the National Archives in The Hague digging into the VOC archives and starting with “Chinsurah”. Antiquarian books and many travels since 1989 followed. The Dutch started in Bengal in the 1620s and left it in 1825. This presentation comprises images over 30 years.
Integrating shared heritage: The Case of Dutch and Armenian Cemetery in Surat, India
by Kaanan Thakkar
The Dutch cemetery in Surat shares its premises with the Armenian graves amidst a crowded locality of urban Surat. Surrounded by urban pressures of development, the cemetery thrives as the only remaining open space for the community that surrounds it. The cemetery is a compound filled with asymmetrically arranged tombs and graves, gradually weathering away with time, just like its history in local narratives. While there is a gap between the community’s needs and the cemetery as its heritage, there arises a question of its significance. This case explores that gap through a study on the current state of conservation aimed towards a sustainable future and attempts to restore the cemetery’s lost identity as shared heritage.
Carel Tenheaff (1948) studied Sociology at the Free University of Amsterdam. Already during his studies in the 1970’s he traveled to India for field work. After his studies he continued research in Odisha on voluntary work and self-organization in rural India. Later he worked as policy advisor in Dutch national NGO’s on senior citizens policy and social and health policy. Meanwhile Carel set up and conducted seminars on policy on ageing throughout South-Asia for the UN Centre of Social Development. Since his retirement in 2009 he erected the Foundation Man and Mangroves for activities on climate change in Odisha. Recently he started a bilateral research and exchange project on the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Odisha.
Dirk de Jong
Dirk de Jong, Born in Schiedam in 1947, is one of the first graduates of the School of Journalism in Netherlands. He started in the 1970s with American and English magazines and newspapers, worked 3 ½ years with UNICEF in Bangladesh and 30 years on sanitation,water and hygiene. Dutch-Indian shared heritage came into his life in 1988, starting with Chinsura, near Calcutta. Since that year he has been researching, documenting and publishing images and stories about the Dutch in India. His photographs comparing sites over 30 years show progress in some places, decline in others.
Kaanan Thakkar is an architect from Mumbai, India pursuing a Masters in Conservation of Monuments and Sites from KU Leuven, Belgium. She has recently completed a research internship at the Cultural Heritage Agency of Netherlands (RCE), integrated with an ongoing Master’s thesis project and field study under the guidance of Jean-Paul Corten for the Sustainable Conservation of Dutch Cemetery as Shared Heritage in Surat, India. She is also currently engaged in assisting with the compilation of a heritage-led innovation and international relations handbook with ILUCIDARE, a European Horizon 2020 funded project and network.