Participatory heritage in a
changing Dutch neighborhood
By using ethnographic data, this research project analyses a case study of participatory heritage in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Katendrecht, the Netherlands: the Verhalenhuis Belvédère or the Center for Intangible Heritage.
Taking as a point of departure Susana Narotzky ́s approach to anthropology – analysing locally embedded experiences as evidence of societal transformation on a national or even global scale (Narotzky 2016) – this research project connects the findings from fieldwork in Katendrecht to overarching socio-economic developments, by looking for example at the connections between heritage and entrepreneurship and heritage and gentrification.
By analysing how the Center, which is permanently under construction, has been included as ‘best practice’ in the discourse of Dutch national heritage policy-making, this research hopes to contribute to contemporary scholarship discussing the recent incorporation of participation into the ‘heritage regime’. By looking at the different scales on which this organization operates, local and national, it is possible to distinguish different approaches to participation within the same organization. Although the Center is largely supported by volunteering employees, the managing core team of ‘heritage entrepreneurs’ is in charge of decision-making on all levels.
When looking at the business model supporting the organization, it becomes clear that participation not merely provides the center with its core heritage product – diverse stories of immigration to and from Rotterdam – as well as a legitimization of its perception as a ‘success story’ of participatory heritage, which in turn provides the center with one of its main sources of its participatory heritage. This provides the center with one of its main sources of income: governmental clients who visit the center to organize ‘participation’ training opportunities for their staff.
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