symbolic value was acknowledged, but international projects primarily focused on their informational value. Now the Nationaal Archief is one of the main actors carrying out the Common Cultural Heritage Policy of the Netherlands government, the focus in international collaboration projects has shifted towards the preservation and appreciation of archives as common heritage. As I have tried to describe in this article, this is not always easy to accomplish. Obviously, as I have discussed only two examples of activities carried out within the Mutual Cultural Heritage Program of the Nationaal Archief, my conclusions are limited. With these examples I tried to illustrate the following points though. First, the Common Cultural Heritage Policy has given a great impulse to international cultural cooperation. Without this framework, the Nationaal Archief would not be able to initiate and participate in so many international projects at the same time. The Dutch Records Project in Chennai, for example, would have been very difficult to realise without the funding allocated by the CCHP. Now these records have been scanned, it no longer has to be feared that valuable and unique information will be lost forever. Therefore, the CCHP can be lauded for making it possible to preserve heritage. At the same time, stressing that this heritage has to be 'common' can be problematic. In any case, the same heritage object is bound to be interpreted differently by different communities. Simply labelling archives as 'common' does not make them common heritage, this has to be actively pursued. Whether this should be the responsibility of an archival institution is questionable. Acknowledging and facilitating the heritage value of archives is not the same as actively shaping it. Finally, the potential of Dutch archives as common heritage would be highly increased if the language problem could be dealt with. Next to Dutch language training, this also means recognizing the need for translations. Where do we go from here? As the CCHP runs until December 31, 2012, the Mutual Cultural Heritage Program of the Nationaal Archief is not finished yet. In fact, at this very moment, policy makers and heritage institutions are brainstorming about the future of common cultural heritage cooperation. In these sessions, 'to claim or not to claim' is not a topic of discussion as common heritage cannot exist without it. The question 'to claim or not to claim' has been central to this article though, as I wanted to examine what happens when you confront policy with practice. In the Netherlands, the common cultural heritage approach is still fairly new, but the outcomes can be, literally, far-reaching. Practitioners should therefore not just carry out this policy, but also be critical of its assumptions and implications. Moreover, the experiences gained while working in the field should be reported back to the policy makers. After all, practice may not always make perfect, but practice should always inform policy. JINNA SMIT TO CLAIM OR NOT TO CLAIM - SHARING ARCHIVES: POLICY AND PRACTICE 185

Periodiekviewer Koninklijke Vereniging van Archivarissen

Jaarboeken Stichting Archiefpublicaties | 2012 | | pagina 187