some appreciation of the Dutch Records as Indian heritage though, as these are the oldest documents in the repository and therefore something to be proud of. This, however, does not compensate for their lingual inaccessibility and therefore insignificance for the history of India. Actually, the physical state in which the records were found could be directly related to the frequency of their visits to the reading room: practically never. In a way, the observation made by the Dutch historian Benjamin Trias about the public perception of colonial buildings in Kochi, India, seems to ring true for the Dutch Records as well: the abandon and neglect of monuments in itself is a way of interacting with them'.37 But how then, can it be explained that the TNA was willing to team up with the Nationaal Archief? After all, the goal of the project, the improvement of the physical condition and accessibility of the Dutch Records, was never considered very important by the TNA. I think that this can be explained by two factors: legal ownership and professional duty. At the ministry they were very clear about it. 'Your records are also our records', it was said, not referring to mutual ownership, but to the fact that the Dutch Records are Indian state property. As such, they need to be looked after, but since they do not seem to have any obvious use for India, there was never a sense of urgency. However, now others were willing to improve a non-ideal situation, putting in efforts and money, who could be against it? In that case, both parties involved could benefit from such a deal. I think that this was also the main reason why the TNA agreed to participate in the Dutch Records Project. The promise of minimum input, maximum output, probably did the trick. As with regards to the stipulation of the CCHP that the value of common heritage should be actively promoted to raise local awareness, such an initiative can only be expected from the Dutch. As mentioned before, the Dutch episode in India has become so insignificant to their history that the Dutch Records cannot even been seen as 'boundary objects'. Conclusion In 2003, the archives of the Dutch East India Company were included in the Unesco Memory of the World Register. Fortunately, about twenty-five million pages of VOC records have survived and are now being kept by archival services in India, Indonesia, the Netherlands, South Africa and Sri Lanka. However, in the case of the VOC documents in Chennai, Unesco's tribute to their 'world significance' and 'outstanding universal value' did not automatically lead to more appreciation. One could even question the heritage value of these records for local communities. As mentioned earlier, Theo Thomassen stated that archivists do not know much about heritage. I added that archivists know even less about heritage that can be shared by two or more countries. For some of us, these assertions are more true than for others. As for the Nationaal Archief, the awareness that certain records in its holdings can also be relevant for other countries has been the foundation for many years of international collaboration. In general, these partnerships were fuelled by the professional desire of the archivist to preserve information and to make sure that it can be used. That archives also have a COLONIAL LEGACY IN SOUTH EAST ASIA - THE DUTCH ARCHIVES 37 Trias, 'Living at the Gates', 38. 184

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Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2012 | | pagina 186