Nineteen researchers of renowned Dutch institutions will engage in nine new research projects in the Dutch Caribbean in the areas of biodiversity, geology and society. This writes The Daily Herald. The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science OCW is making 12.5 million euros available for this large, multi-disciplinary programme of the Netherlands Scientific Organisation NWO.
Two of the nine researchers are well known in the Windward Islands: Dr. Francio Guadeloupe of University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) and currently Dean of Academics at University of St. Martin (USM), and Professor Dr. Gert-Jan Oostindië of Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies KITLV. Guadeloupe’s research, titled “Imagining the Nation in the Classroom: A Study of the Politics of Belonging and Nationness in St. Maarten and St. Eustatius,” will focus on the interaction between hegemonic ideologies of an exclusive belonging, imagination and the performing of the open community. Primary schools in St. Maarten and St. Eustatius will form the research locations for Guadeloupe. “These institutions assume to teach children who belong, who belong less or who don’t belong. At the same time, the classroom offers space to imagine and perform the open community,” it was stated in an NWO press release on Tuesday. A team of researchers, anthropologists, educationalists and culture historians will develop tools for inclusive education as part of Guadeloupe’s project. “This project wants to contribute to the debate of the position of the nation and the nation state in the 21st century.”
Oostindië’s project is titled “Confronting Caribbean challenges: hybrid identities and governance in small-scale island jurisdictions” and deals for a great part with the relations of the Dutch Caribbean islands with their former coloniser, the Netherlands. “Independence is rejected, but there is discontent about what is called Dutch re-colonisation. This research creates a sharper view of politics of nowadays and the islands’ identities. Which influence do governmental reformations and migrations have on the identities and the political establishment on the islands?” As part of Oostindië’s project, a post-doctorate will research the almost undocumented social history of the Windward Islands in light of migration processes and the new constitutional status of country within the Kingdom.
A second post-doctorate will research the governmental processes and tensions on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba since they became Dutch public entities, as well as the consequences of Dutch interventions in these small communities. A Ph.D. student will look at the daily practices of the public entities’ governments, especially where it pertains cultural heritage and nature protection.
Several of the projects focus on nature, specifically marine nature, such as “Caribbean cruisers in the Kingdom: ecology and protection of sea turtles” by Professor Dr. P.J. Palsbøll of University of Groningen RUG and Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies CEES, and “Stability of Caribbean coastal ecosystems under future extreme sea level changes” by Professor Dr. Ir. H.A. Dijkstra of University of Utrecht Department of Physics and Astronomy. Some projects are of a very technical, detailed nature such as “Caribbean coral reef ecosystems: interactions of anthropogenic ocean acidification and eutrophication with bio-erosion by coral excavating sponges” by Dr. F.C. van Duyl of Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ and “4D crust-mantle modelling of the Eastern Caribbean region: toward coupling deep driving processes to surface evolution” by Professor Dr. W. Spakman of University of Utrecht Faculty of Geological Science. Two projects will focus on the introduction of invasive species on the islands and their influence on local nature and the fragile ecosystem: “Caribbean Island Biogeography Meets the Anthropocene” by Professor Dr. J. Ellers of Free University Amsterdam VU Department of Animal Ecology and “Exotic plant species in the Caribbean: foreign foes or alien allies?” by Professor Dr. M.J. Wassen of University of Utrecht Department of Innovations and Environmental Science.
One research project stands out because it deals with a totally different subject, criminal behaviour of Dutch Caribbean women. It is titled “Pathways into crime: the interrelation of poverty, education, family factors and attachment among Dutch Caribbean women” by Dr. A. Slotboom of Free University Amsterdam VU Faculty of Law. This project will look into the contributing factors for criminal behaviour both in the Netherlands and on the islands.
The initiative for the programme “Caribbean research: a multi-disciplinary approach” came from NWO, in cooperation with the Ministry of OCW. Local and regional organisations and partners have been involved in much of the planned research. “The studies will present facts and knowledge that can be of use for local policy decisions,” NWO stated. “The results of these multi-disciplinary research projects can contribute to an improvement of the living environment on the islands. This also gives scientific research on and about the Caribbean the impulse that it deserves,” stated Dutch State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science Sander Dekker. The Ministry of OCW strives to strengthen the knowledge basis and networks in the Dutch Caribbean and requested that NWO make use of the opportunities for scientific research in this part of the Kingdom.
The Ministry is making 12.5 million euros in total available to NWO for the programme. Five million has been used for the current, first financing leg. The second financing leg will take place in 2015/2016. The Ministry also has made 2.5 million euros available through NWO to Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research NIOZ to set up Caribbean Netherlands Scientific Institute CNSI on St. Eustatius. Many of the researchers of NWO’s programme will be making use of this centre.