Those who cannot Share, cannot Multiply
René Teijgeler, the owner of Culture in Development, has published his professional experiences, ideas and studies since 1993. René thinks that writing forces you to reflect on your work, which keeps you sharp. At the same time it enables you to participate in public discussions.
It all started at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, where René worked as a conservator. Browsing through the rich paperhistorical collection he stumbled on a Sumatran manuscript with an incorrect catalogue entry. Hence, his first articles on Indonesian manuscripts.
René's journey into the physical aspects of the written word took him to paperhistory. He became an active member of the International Association of Paper Historians (IPH) and published several studies on non-western paperhistory.
A next step in his career was the oppertunity to write the Preservation Science Survey with his good friend and collegue, the preservation scientist Henk Porck. The report became a big success.
When the National Archives in the Hague asked René to write a bibliography for a conference on Preservation in the Tropics he could not refuse. After 7 months a comprehensive annotated publication on Preservation in tropical climates appeared. It was the only one of its kind and is still widely used. In 2007 the Portuguese translation was published.
In 2004 the Dutch Civil-Military Cooperation unit asked René to go to Baghdad as the senior cultural advisor at the US embassy. Due to the increasingly violent encounters it became more and more difficult to meet and assist Iraqi heritage collegues. Still, Babylon was cleared from the military, al-Hatra survived the controlled explosions, the National Library was on the right track, the National Museum was up and running, and the sniper was taken from the Samarra minaret. So many things to write about. A collegue said: 'It will take another 30 years before all the diaries about the Iraq war are published'. I must add that it includes my own Iraq war diary.
Ever since my experiences in Iraq I have been fascinated with how we as heritage professionals can work together with military forces in international missions. The debate has been hot and sometimes unfair. It is all about emotions mixed in with firm ideological positions . In my latest work I made a distinction between co-operation before the conflict (pre-conflict), during the conflict (peri-conflict) and after the conflict (post-conflict). I found that cultural heritage was only disscussed in the reconstruction phase of a conflict. The model I presented, though too static still, has been accepted now.
It is clear that up to a certain point I do work with the military to protect and safeguard the precious heritage of a country suffering from an armed conflict, see my paper at... But that can only be under certain conditions. That I is why I am a great proponent of Guidelines for Heritage-Military relations in times of conflict just like the "Oslo Guidelines" for emergency workers in their relation with the military in times of a natural disaster. See my latest paper at... To be continued...