This paper, delivered by Eugenio van Maanen and Gregory Ashworth at the “Contested Pasts: Urban Heritage in Divided Cities,” Conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies, Canada, in 2016, introduces the term ‘mutual heritage’ and seeks to explore the existence of mutuality within the interpretation of built
colonial heritage in a multiethnic society.
In Suriname, agreement on heritage matters among ethnic communities – Creole, Maroons, Hindustanis, Javanese, etc – is yet to be forged. Each group has its own attitude towards the colonial architectural heritage and levels of involvement in heritage vary from group to group (according to a questionnaire).
Government cultural policies seem to have two objectives which may be at odds: preserving cultural diversity and creating a national identity. The Dutch use the term “mutual heritage” to describe the Dutch overseas heritage in their former colonies. This concept may be aspirational in many multi-ethnic post-colonial societies.