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The Ambassador of the Dominican Republic visits the Faculty of Archaeology

Monday 6 February the Faculty of Archaeology had the honour to receive the e Ambassador of the Dominican Republic, H.E. Dr. Juan Bautista Durán. The motive of the visit was to discuss the collaboration between the university and the Dominican Government after the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Leiden University and the Ministry of Culture of the Dominican Republic.

A tour of the Faculty

During the visit, the ambassador had a tour of the faculty by Prof. dr. Corinne Hofman,  Dr. Menno Hoogland, and Leiden RMA student Marianny Aguasvivas Hernandez from the Dominican Republic. The ambassador had guided visits to the Laboratory for Archaeozoological Studies by Dr. Laura Llorente Rodriguez, the Laboratory for Human Osteoarchaeology by Dr. Rachel Schats, and the Laboratory for Archaeobotanical studies by Dr. Michael Field.

The ambassador visiting the archaeobotany lab at the Faculty of archaeology. Dr. Michael Field participated in a palaeoecological field project in the northern Dominican Republic in 2015 with Dr. Hofman and Hoogland.

Memorandum of Understanding

The MOU will not only help develop archaeological research and education in the Dominican Republic but also strengthen the ties between the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands. The embassy has plans to collaborate with the university to engage both with Dominican students in the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic, as well as to facilitate exchanges for Dutch students to the Dominican Republic.

The signing of the MOU by the Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology Prof. dr Jan Kolen in the Dominican Embassy this past December.

Leiden University and the Dominican Republic

Prof. dr. Hofman and Dr. Hoogland have been working with the Dominican Republic since 2004, collaborating with different museums like the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, the Centro Cultural León Jimenes, and Museo arqueológico Altos de Chavón, with local universities like the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo and foremost with local communities in a wide range of archaeological projects. Between 2004 and 2008 the research project ‘Life and death in a Taino community: The interplay of quotidian and ritual behavious in the pre-Columbian Dominican Republic’ took place in the eastern part of the island. This project was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific research and served as a field school for both Leiden and Dominican students. Alice Samson received her doctorate in the context of this project for her research Renewing the house: trajectories of social life in the yucayeque (community) of El Cabo, Higüey, Dominican Republic, AD 800 to 1504. Sidestone Press, Leiden 2010. An exhibition about the findings titled ‘Unity and Diversity in the Amerindian Caribbean’ was exhibited both at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano in Santo Domingo in 2013 and in Centro León Jimenes in Santiago de los Caballeros in 2014.

This project was followed by the ERC-Synergy project NEXUS1492 which investigated the impact of the colonial incursions on the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. The government of the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Ministry of Culture, the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, and the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo were some of the essential partners of NEXUS1492. These partnerships allowed Dominican students Pauline Kulstad and Arlene Alvarez to carry out doctoral research as well as other researchers from the Caribbean and Europe to conduct PhD and postdoctoral studies and to create a wide network of interdisciplinary research in the region and worldwide. A synthetic volume with more than 70 contributors is currently under review and will be published by Sidestone Press. A compilation of the publications of the NEXUS project will be published in Spanish for the 50th anniversary of the Museo del Hombre Dominicano later this year.

The ambassador looking at pollen in the archaeobotany lab.

Future plans

The next steps will focus on collaborations both in the Netherlands and in the Dominican Republic with plans to provide direct exchange pathways for both students and academics from both countries. The embassy has also expressed their interest in the development of the exhibition Caribbean Ties: Connected Peoples then and Now, which first opened in the Centro Cultural León Jiménes in the Dominican Republic in May 2019 as part of Nexus1492. The itinerant exhibition has travelled to more than 15 countries in the Caribbean as well as in The Netherlands. Caribbean Ties will be launched at the Oude UB of Leiden University on March 8th and will be accessible to the public from the 9 March for a period of two months.

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