Statia Heritage Research Commission takes first steps
The Public Entity St. Eustatius and the appointed Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) met yesterday, Tuesday July 27, 2021, to discuss the next steps related to the recent archaeological excavations at the airport. SHRC will also advise the Government Commissioners on community engagement as it was decided that the opinion of the community will play a critical role in the decision how to move forward. SHCR will re-evaluate the current heritage practices and policies as well.
In addition, the commission will discuss how to approach future discoveries of cemeteries and other archaeological findings.
The SHRC will operate as an independent commission that consists of international, regional and local Statian experts in the areas of history, archaeology, anthropology and community engagement. In addition to chairman Jay Haviser, an archaeologist on St. Maarten and the President of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA), the eight-nation SHRC with almost half of the members being of Statian descent, consists of 5 additional archaeologists. These are Matthieu Ecrabet, Kevin Farmer, Corinne Hofman, Alexandra Jones and Joshua Torres. There are also 4 anthropologists on the team: Rose Mary Allen, Luc Alofs, Richenel Ansano and Teresa Leslie. The other members are Xiomara Balentina (psychologist), Ishmael Berkel (community leader), Alissandra Cummins (heritage specialist), Raimie Richardson (historian) and Paul Spanner (community leader).
The meeting of SHCR of yesterday was a very productive international discussion in seeking the next appropriate step: for the community to have a voice about their heritage and for the government to receive professional guidance regarding their cultural policies and practices. The SHRC commission offers a dynamic opportunity for serious and objective re-evaluations of our cultural heritage practices and policies for Statia, the Kingdom, and in the broader Caribbean, as indicted by the role of IACA in this discussion.
Following the meeting of yesterday, the SHRC commission members will deliver multi-disciplinary documents with, amongst others, suggestions how to engage the community on these important matters.
Two weeks ago the Public Entity St. Eustatius announced to suspend the airport dig and appoint a (independent) commission. The appointment of SHRC is due to the fact that the Public Entity has neither the experience nor the expertise to deal with a project with such a significant cultural impact.