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Expert Roundtable in Preparation for the 4th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting

The Cultural Heritages of Asia and Europe: Global Challenges and Local Initiatives

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
02 Sep - 03 Sep 10 Culture Department ASEF Cultural Policy Project Culture

Amsterdam (The Netherlands)


The two-day Expert Roundtable brought together academic and civil society experts from Asia and Europe to openly discuss the multi-faceted aspects of cultural heritage and the various challenges experienced. The main objective of the discussion was to recommend concrete, contextualised strategies towards development and social empowerment through cultural heritage, and present these recommendations at the 4th ASEM Culture MInisters' Meeting. In addition, results of the discussion would assist the International Institute for Asian Studies (based in Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands) in identifying potential research and policy-relevant topics.

Key recommendations that emerged from the Roundtable included the need to recognise, explore, and support the potential and actual contributions of cultural practitioners, micro-entrepreneurs, and activists in cultural transmission and change. Participants of the roundtable also stressed the need for platforms and networks for the interaction of different social actors as equals in the representation, transmission, governance, and sharing of heritage.

Finally, participants highlighted the importance of heritage in education, and pointed to the need for critical perspectives on heritage at all levels (local, regional, national and transnational), including the notion of a "shared heritage" between Asia and Europe.

Project Updates

  • At the 4th Asia-Europe Culture Ministers’ Meeting held in Poznan, Poland on 9-10 September, culture ministers from countries taking part in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process commended the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) for its work in increasing cultural understanding between the two regions. They emphasised the significant role played ASEF through its flagship programmes in reinforcing ASEM priorities in this area as set by ASEM heads of governments.

    The ministers particularly noted ASEF’s efforts in spearheading the development of the online culture portal, The portal, an initiative of the 2nd ASEM Culture Ministers Meeting in 2005, connects artists and cultural practitioners in both regions and promotes the exchange of ideas, information as well as experts. ASEF recently re-launched the website with a new design, using social media tools, improving the user-friendliness of this website.

    Ministers also took note of the recommendations by heritage experts at the roundtable, The Cultural Heritages of Asia and Europe: Global Challenges and Local Initiatives (2-3 September 2010, Amsterdam). This was which co-organised by ASEF in preparation for the Culture Ministers’ Meeting in Poznan which focused on heritage.

    The ASEM culture ministers meet every two years. ASEF has contributed regularly to their discussions by gathering recommendations from leading civil society players on topics related to the Culture Ministers’ Meetings.










    Experts from 19 ASEM countries met in Amsterdam to discuss and
    prepare recommendations on heritage for policy makers in the two

    Scholars and cultural professionals from 19 ASEM countries urge policy makers taking part in the ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting   and ASEM8 Summit to support platforms that include different stakeholders. This would give them an equal voice in shaping cultural policies as well as to recognise the notion of ‘shared heritage’. These ideas are among the recommendations from a roundtable held in Amsterdam, Netherlands (2-3 September 2010).

    The roundtable, The Cultural Heritages of Asia and Europe: Global Challenges and Local Initiatives   was organised by ASEF and the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) in The Netherlands. It gathered a wide variety of heritage experts in both regions to prepare policy recommendations on heritage conservation and promotion.

    One of the participants, Dr Tansen Sen, Director of the Nalanda-Sriwijaya Centre at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, explains the concept of shared heritage. “For instance, tea is a shared heritage between China, India and the British. The ancient university of Nalanda (in Bihar, India) is another 'shared space' and attempts are now being made to revive it. It is interesting to see the connections that existed in the past and revive these connections as a means to bring cultures together. The key thing is convincing political actors to look at cultural connections beyond borders, be it pre-colonial, colonial or post-colonial.”

    The participants also highlighted other key issues such as giving equal importance to cultures of minority communities, valuing the roles of cultural practitioners, activists and micro-businesses in heritage sites and the importance of sharing or conducting joint research to create common knowledge.

    ASEF conveyed their recommendations to the ASEM Culture Ministers Meeting in Poznan, Poland, in September 2010.

    Read the full recommendations and findings





  • International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS)
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