Who Owns Heritage? Event at 14:00 hours on 5 November 2019 at the National Archives (Mullerzaal), The Hague

The Netherlands-Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Foundation is organizing an event titled “Who Owns Heritage?” on Tuesday 5 November 2019 from 14:00 to 18:00 hours (with network reception) at the National Archives of the Netherlands (Mullerzaal), The Hague.

The National Archives is located next to The Hague Central Station and just a 3 minute walk to
Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 20, 2595 BE The Hague

The event is FREE of CHARGE.

It would be great if you could join us on this afternoon.So please note the date in your diary and let us know if you could attend by emailing to:

About the event
We wish to explore the meaning of the statement “Who Owns Heritage?” from a conceptual as well as from practical perspectives. This in the context of Netherlands and Sri Lankan relations of the past, the present and the future.

The theme “Who owns Heritage?” is not only provocative but could be timely too. It could turn out to be a complicated question due to the several perspectives needed to address it.  For instance historical, political, legal & justice, economic (business) and ethical perspectives. Practically the subject could be viewed, for example, from the perspective of tourism e.g. who owns heritage?: the tourists, the “locals” or the real estate developers? Increasingly the museums are reflecting on how to come to terms with the past legacies. Legal considerations may be about the questions related to the legitimacy of booty of war or looting. Sometimes objects were simply given as gifts. The contribution of cultural objects towards national identity formation and if so how and why seems relevant as well. In any case all this indicating that the multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary topic “heritage”  could be of academic and business interest.

Confirmed speakers:

(1) The return of objects during British colonial rule: the story of a skull and a throne
Prof. dr.  N.K. Wickramasinghe, Professor of Modern South Asian Studies| |Academic Director | Leiden University Institute for Area Studies.

(2) The story of a blue cannon from Kandy
Martine Gosselink,
Head of Department of History, Rijksmuseum.

(3) Shared Heritage: Sri Lanka and The Netherlands.
Dr. Sanuja Kasthuriarachchi
, Director General, Department of National Museums, Sri Lanka

(4) The current debate about restitution of cultural objects from colonial contexts.
Dr. Jos van Beurden
, Affiliated Researcher, Free University Amsterdam.

(5)  Heritage only for a select group ?
Drs.. Peter van der Lende,
Labrys Reizen B.V. (Cultural tours).

(6)  Restitution of looted art?
Paul Russell,
Senior Partner at Russell Advocaten B.V. (expert in art & law), former Senator in the Dutch Senate.

What can be done after the event?
The current international cultural policies (2017-2020) of the Netherlands are based on concepts such as shared heritage and mutual image formation. They remain relevant and actual even today.
The future policies – Culture for Everyone – spanning the period 2021-2024 are taking shape now and are to be presented to the Dutch parliament in the autumn of 2019.
The Netherlands Sri Lanka Foundation is hoping to participate in and contributing, in a modest way, towards materializing the international cultural vision and achieving the policy objectives. The event is one of the activities of the foundation to strengthen the international cultural exchange and the profile of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka and vice versa. Also to consider how to build awareness of a shared heritage between Sri Lanka and the Netherlands i.e. also contribute towards mutual image formation.

We anticipate that the event could encourage academics participating to explore possibilities of new projects and collaborations/networks.
While the Netherlands-Sri Lanka foundation and the “practitioners” would reflect on possibilities of putting theory to practice.

Please do let us know if you could join us on

Date & Time:  Tuesday 5 November 2019 from 14-00 to 18:00 hours
(with an informal networking reception).

Venue:         The National Archives (Mullerzaal), The Hague
Visitors address:  Prins Willem-Alexanderhof 20, 2595 BE The Hague

Please confirm participation by emailing to
                   dilip.tambyrajah@wxs.nl or info@stichtingnederlandsrilanka.nl

On behalf of the organizing team (Prof. Georg Frerks, Prof. Remco Raben and Dr. Lodewijk Wagenaar)

Dilip Tambyrajah
Board Member
Netherlands Sri Lanka (Ceylon) Foundation

T: +31 79 316 9531