2023 Dalhousie - Horrocks National Leadership Lecture

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2023 Dalhousie - Horrocks National Leadership Lecture

Perspectives from the global south (Suriname) on archival repatriation: challenges and opportunities

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About this event

  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Mobile eTicket


Rita Tjien Fooh

Director of the National Archives Suriname

Perspectives from the global south (Suriname) on archival repatriation: challenges and opportunities


Monday, February 13, 2023

5:30 PM - 7:00 PM AT


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RESPONDENT: (providing a brief interactive response to the lecture): 

Ir. Arjan Agema from the National Archives of the Netherlands

ENDORSED BY: Association of Canadian Archivists, International Council on Archives (Expert Group on Shared Archival Heritage), Library & Archives Canada, Nova Scotia Archives.

ORGANIZED BY: The School of Information Management

ABSTRACT: Over the past five decades there has been a growing consciousness among archival institutions from the global south that the construction of their history and identity were based on the sources and narratives compiled by former colonial powers. The dominant storyline and perspectives in the archival sources were determined by the entity who held the power at that time. Access to these archival sources that are held in the repositories in Europe, USA , Canada and other countries are therefore of utmost importance for researchers and institutions in order to decolonize the archives . At the same time local acquisitions and recordings of oral history are important methods for institutions to control their own narratives and move beyond sources of the colonial archives. In my presentation I will elaborate on the archival collaboration between the National Archives Suriname and the Netherlands, with a focus on the repatriation of colonial archives between 2010 and 2017 and the various projects both institutions undertook since then. In addition, this lecture will also be centered around subjects linked to fostering archival collaboration with regional and international archival institutions and organisations, initiating conversations about best practices, and the role of archives in reparatory justice. Lastly, in the age of repatriation of paper archives and digital collaboration, the global south is becoming increasingly dependent on hosting in the global north where different regulations apply with regard to open access, free reuse of archives, etc. How will this increasing sphere of influence of the global north affect the future of digital heritage?

SPEAKER BIO: Rita Tjien Fooh is currently the Director of the National Archives Suriname. Since taking office as national archivist in 2010, she was involved in a seven year project (2010- 2017) for the repatriation of the colonial archives from the Netherlands to Suriname. This project is considered to be one of the large successful repatriation project on international level.

She is member of the Foundation for the Historical Database Suriname and Curacao (HDSC) that was launched in 2018 after the successful implementation of the database of the enslaved people. Furthermore she serves in various national committees for the preservation of cultural heritage.

 Mrs. Tjien Fooh is also actively involved in regional and international professional organizations. From 2015- 2019 she was  the President of the Caribbean Branch of the International Council on Archives (CARBICA).  During her CARBICA presidency she launched a three year project (2016- 2018) 'Archives at Risk: Advocacy & Capacity building in the Caribbean', a project funded by the International Council on Archives (ICA). In her capacity as CARBICA President she represented the Caribbean region in the Executive Board of the ICA.  Until recently (2021) Mrs. Tjien Fooh served the ICA in various roles.

From 2015- 2017 she was the President of the UNESCO Memory of the World Program for the Latin American and Caribbean Region. Since January 2018 she was appointed by the Secretary General of the UNESCO, as a member of International Advisory Committee (IAC) of  the Memory of the World Programme of the UNESCO.

 Currently Mrs. Tjien Fooh is a part time lecturer at the History Department of the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.

She is still actively involved in projects related to the preservation and safeguarding of the Caribbean cultural heritage.  In her role as co-chair of the Caribbean Heritage Emergency Network (CHEN) she is currently preparing a project to launch a Caribbean hub for Cultural Emergency response in 2023.

 Rita Tjien Fooh holds a Archivistiek A degree from the University of Amsterdam and a Master degree in Public Administration from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

RESPONDENT BIO: Ir. Arjan Agema is head of the Digitization department of the National Archives of the Netherlands and member of the management team. His team digitizes 1700 meters of archive every year. He is also responsible for the International Heritage Cooperation-program which emphasizes cooperation, exchange of (digital) collections and capacity building with a number of priority countries with special relations with the Netherlands. Since 2015 he is president of the board of Archives Portal Europe Foundation and he is a member of the ICA Expert group on shared archival heritage (EGSAH). Being educated as a non-western rural sociologist, Agema has work in development cooperation, and has had several leading positions in museums and archival institutions.

Please contact sim@dal.ca with questions regarding this event.

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