Island(er)s at the Helm: Co-creating research on sustainable and inclusive solutions for social adaptation to climate challenges in the (Dutch) Caribbean

Driven by the increasing public awareness of the impact of hurricanes and the devastation of coastal areas, Island(er)s at the Helm contributes to equipping (Dutch) Caribbean societies with proficient tools for confronting these challenging climatic phenomena.

 

Such adverse events have significant ecological, social, and cultural implications, affecting the basic living conditions (water, food, shelter-nexus/WFS-nexus) and heritage of the island inhabitants. This research builds on the principle that local-specific practices and ontologies of Caribbean societies are crucial for promoting sustainable WFS-nexus solutions. The project brings together researchers and societal partners to employ a mixture of technical, traditional, and contemporary knowledge practices for studying climate change adaptation through a long-term perspective.

Transdisciplinary research design

The Island(er)s at the Helm program studies sustainable and inclusive solutions to climate challenges in the ABCSSS islands from different disciplines. Researchers and societal partners work together to combine technical, traditional and contemporary knowledge practices.

Through archaeology, anthropology, architecture, palaeoecology, palaeoethnobotany, musicology, urban planning, political science, and water management, they are mapping how residents of the ABCSSS islands cope with climate change through five interrelated work packages.

Participatory & engaged research

Island(er)s at the Helm has a participatory approach: research-based and societally relevant strategies for climate adaptation are developed in close collaboration with community stakeholders.

The program hosts regular participatory meetings, as well as larger stakeholder meetings twice a year. In May 2022, the seventh session was held at Axum Art Cafe in St. Maarten. In these meetings, societal partners and interested parties discuss the progress of the research and exchange knowledge and ideas with the research team.

Trans-Atlantic Academic Platform

A trans-Atlantic academic platform fosters research-based education on climate challenges for the six islands. This program will offer joint courses in cooperation with institutes in the region and the wider Kingdom of the Netherlands starting in January 2023.

One of the end objectives of the program is to develop a regional expertise center on climate challenges, where the Dutch Caribbean researchers can find employ, is one of the end objectives of this program.

Project proposal

Download the full project proposal for Island(er)s at the Helm here.

Social media

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Our team

Dr. Francio Guadeloupe (Chair & Principal Investigator WP2)
Francio Guadeloupe (UvA/KITLV) is a senior researcher and staff member of the KITLV. A Social & Cultural Anthropologist by training, Dr. Guadeloupe has worked at all the major universities in the Netherlands. He served for four years as the President of the University of St. Martin (USM), until hurricane Irma led to the temporary closure of the institution on the bi-national island of Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Read More.

Prof. dr. Corinne L. Hofman (co-Chair & Principal Investigator WP1)
Corinne L. Hofman (LU/KITLV) is PI of the CaribTRAILS project at the KITLV, which receives funding from the NWO Spinoza prize awarded to her in 2014. She is also Professor of Caribbean Archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. From 2013 to 2019, Hofman was the CPI of the ERC-Synergy project NEXUS1492. Read More.

Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez (co-Applicant & Principal Investigator WP4)
Antonio Carmona Báez (USM) is a Puerto Rican political scientist specialised in International Relations and the Political Economy of Development. In 1994, he received a BA from Middlebury College, Vermont, USA where he studied International Politics and Spanish and Latin American Literature. Thereafter, he pursued his graduate degree (MA) in International Relations at the University of Amsterdam. In 2002, he earned his doctorate degree from the same university in International Relations, upon having written his dissertation Global Trends and the Remnants of Socialism: Socio-economic and Political Restructuring in Cuba. Read More.

Sharelly Emanuelson (PhD researcher)
Sharelly Emanuelson is a filmmaker, visual artist, researcher, and founder of Uniarte (art platform). She carries a BA in audiovisual media and MA in artistic research. For her films and installations between 2010 and 2021 she has been widely recognized with screenings, prizes and grants in local, regional, and international festivals and institutes. As a part of Islander(s) at the Helm, Sharelly Emanuelson will conduct ethnographic research from a visual-anthropological perspective, focused on leisure. This research departs from the fact that in the Dutch Caribbean there is a longer trajectory where people are not only faced with natural disasters, but also economic and social repression (the coloniality of disaster) and those circumstances have led to an importance of leisure time as moments of freedom. Emanuelson will conduct multi-sited fieldwork in spaces and places of leisure on four the six Dutch Caribbean islands.

 

Harold Kelly (PhD researcher)
Harold Kelly graduated with a masters at the Leiden University in 2003. Since then, he has been working as an archaeologist at the National Archaeological Museum Aruba and has also served as a deputy director of the museum between 2007 and 2013. In context of Island(er)s at the Helm, Kelly will be looking at long-term evidence for social adaptations to habitation and climatic challenges in Aruba, Bonaire, and Sint Maarten, from an archaeological perspective. The islands will serve as case studies to examine how islanders coped with challenges that negatively impacted their water and food resources and influenced their settlement location and house structures. Coping mechanisms identified within the archaeological record will contribute to the development of innovative sustainable solutions within the Islanders at the Helm project to mitigate climatic challenges faced today.

 

Lysanne Charles (PhD researcher)
Lysanne Charles is an artist, educator and activist whose work has centered on empowerment of marginalized groups across issues using tools in education, the arts and activism. She is a native of the Dutch Caribbean islands of Saba and St. Maarten, with family ties to St. Eustatius, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba. Lysanne has bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina Pembroke and masters degrees in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Amsterdam Graduate Schools of Science. In the past she worked as an Instructor of Caribbean Studies, Caribbean History and Social Studies and was employed as a civil servant for the Government of Sint Maarten in the areas of policy development and implementation. As a part of Islander(s) at the Helm, Lysanne Charles will utilize a transdisciplinary approach to analyze and bring together stakeholders from government and the community in order to co-create a viable and sustainable policies and strategies roadmap in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the SSS islands. Charles’ research project is entitled, “Community Engagement in Sustainable Governance: The Co-creation of Climate Policy on St. Martin, Saba and St. Eustatius” and she will be based at the University of St. Martin.

Emma de Mooij (Project Manager)
Emma de Mooij (RMA) studied Caribbean Archaeology at Leiden University. Alongside managing the Island(er)s a the Helm project, she is also coordinator for the CaribTRAILS project, also at KITLV.

Tibisay Sankatsing Nava (Community engagement & science communication coordinator)
Tibisay Sankatsing Nava is community engagement coordinator for the Island(er)s at the Helm project. She is also a PhD candidate; her research focuses on the co-creation of heritage research with Caribbean island communities.

Dr. Jaime R. Pagán-Jiménez (researcher in paleoethnobotany)

During the past 18 years, Jaime Pagán-Jiménez has sought to create and strengthen public, scientific, and governmental awareness of the Puerto Rican and Caribbean archaeological heritage. He has devoted much of his recent time in designing a new disciplinary approach (“paleoethnoecology”) that seeks to link the knowledge gained about ancient agroecological systems in the Caribbean to the development of modern agroecological strategies and solutions in order to address fundamental food security problems that historically have affected the region. Pagán-Jiménez has been recently appointed as Researcher in paleoethnobotany by Island(er)s at the Helm project. In this project, Pagán-Jiménez has started to put in practice the aforementioned disciplinary approach

Dr. Charissa Granger (researcher in musicology)

Charissa Granger is a musicologist and lecturer in cultural studies at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (Trinidad and Tobago) whose teaching and research focuses on Afro-Caribbean and diasporic music-making and performance as decolonising practices. Attending to the residue of chattel-slavery and the legacy of colonialism, Charissa is interested in decolonial aesthetics, love, and erotic knowledge in musics such as steelband and tambú. After completing a bachelor’s in visual and performing arts at Northern Illinois University (USA) with a focus on cultural studies and steelpan performance, and a master’s in cultural musicology at The University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Charissa focused on world music performance practice, attending to how otherness is framed at world music festivals as a doctoral research project at the University of Göttingen (Germany). Charissa was awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie LEaDing Fellowship at Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2018-2020

Dr. Kees Nooren (researcher in Paleoecology and Climatology)

Kees Nooren has recently been appointed as Researcher in Paleoecology and Climatology by Island(er)s at the Helm project, an ambitious interdisciplinary research program financed by NWO in the Dutch Caribbean.

He has a background in Biology (Msc) and obtained his PhD in Physical Geography. He worked and lived in Brazil, Aruba, and Mexico, and  is very  interested in human environmental interactions and human adaptation strategies to past climate change, especially for Mesoamerican and Caribbean societies. He is a specialist in palaeoenvironmental and palaeoclimate reconstructions, and is familiar with the application of multiple proxies, including pollen and diatoms.

Aga Kus (PhD researcher)

Aga Kus is a researcher with architectural background. She graduated with honors in 2021 with a Master of Science in Architecture at TUDelft. Aga has a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree obtained from Wroclaw University (Poland) with one year of experience focusing on Sustainable Architecture at Polytechnic of Turin (Italy).

In her design projects, she worked on unraveling social and environmental challenges in Mumbai (India) and Bandung (Indonesia). During her Master’s studies she led an international association – BEST Delft, bringing students together to develop themselves and build trust in international collaborations. As a part of Islander(s) at the Helm, Aga will focus on extreme architecture, researching weather-proof design solutions and self-reliant communities on Sint Maarten. Her project is entitled “Community-based circular design”, and she is a part of KITLV and TU Delft.

Dr. Gregory Richardson (researcher in Anthropology)

Gregory Richardson is a lecturer and researcher at the Instituto Pedagogico Arubano in Aruba (Dutch Caribbean). He has published several works on Calypso Music in Aruba and the region. His other areas of research include general Latin American and Caribbean studies, sociolinguistics, music and education.

Dr. Daphina Misiedjan (researcher in Human Rights and the environment)

Dr. Daphina Misiedjan is  assistant professor in human rights and the environment at International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague and 2020/2021 Fellow at The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS). She is also an expert within the UN Harmony with Nature program. She specializes in issues concerning human rights and environmental justice, specifically concerning Environmental Justice within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Rights of Nature and Environmental Justice fromm local city and neighborhood perspectives.

Andrea Richards (affiliated PhD researcher)

Andrea is a Caribbean archaeologist presently working on various initiatives on disaster resilience in the Caribbean’s culture sector, with a focus on post-disaster needs and vulnerability assessments and the safeguarding of living heritage in emergencies.

Andrea’s interests are wide in the heritage field; however, she has special interest in the impact of climate change on cultural and natural heritage, the sustainable use of heritage, the application of international heritage treaties in the Caribbean and the movement of the region’s cultural property. She is an associate fellow at the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of SE Asian and Caribbean Studies (CaribTRAILS Project) and is presently undertaking doctoral research on climate change adaptation and heritage, with a focus on cultural heritage pathways in mitigation, adaptation and building resilience in the Anglo-phone Caribbean with linkages to the Dutch Caribbean. She has also conducted research for publications focussing on cultural resource management in the Caribbean, the impact of natural hazards and climate change on the pre-Columbian archaeological record, and resilient Caribbean communities and climate change.

Dr. Menno Hoogland (affiliated researcher in Archaeology)
Menno Hoogland is Associate Professor in Caribbean Archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University. He studied cultural anthropology with a focus on prehistory and physical anthropology at Leiden University. In 1980, he participated in the Spitsbergen expedition of the University of Groningen. He wrote his doctoral thesis on settlement patterns of the Amerindian population of Saba, Netherlands Antilles.

Hoogland currently works as senior researcher in the CaribTRAILS project, focusing on indigenous burial practices before and after the arrival of the colonial powers in the Caribbean region.

Aug 2022 – Beginning of the year lecture @ USM

Islanders at the Helm researcher Dr. Charissa Granger gave the #beginningoftheyear lecture for University of St. Martin at  the National Institute of the Arts in St. Martin on August 25th 2022, titled ‘Reinventing Worlds Through Musical Imagination’. Read more.

June 2022 – Our team at Dutch Caribbean Research Week

Dr. Charissa Granger: presentation ‘Caribbean Diasporic Methodologies: Thinking through science education and music studies’ and panel discussion on climate change
Aga Kus: Poster pitch and presentationKees Nooren: presentation ‘the Caribbean Climate, from past to present’
Lysanne Charles: presentation ‘When Island(er)s Le(a)d’ and panel discussion about the Dutch Caribbean Research Platform.Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez: panel discussion about the Dutch Caribbean Research Platform. Read more.

June 2022 – Working across the Atlantic: research collaboration in the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Dr. Francio Guadeloupe (University of Amsterdam / Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies), Doenja Koppejan (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science), and Prof. dr. Liesbeth Echteld (University of Curaçao), participated in a panel discussion on sustainable, kingdom-wide scientific collaboration. Read more.

May 2022 – Public Meeting at Axum Art Cafe, Philipsburg, St. Maarten

An evening with short presentations, conversations, drinks and music by Sweet Pan Entertainment SXM in Philipsburg on Wednesday May 18 2022, from 19:00 –22:00 at Axum Art cafe at Speentjes Arcade, #7 Front Street. Read more.

May 2022 – Island(er)s at the Helm team meeting in St. Maarten

In Island(er)s at the Helm, twelve researchers study sustainable and inclusive solutions to climate challenges in the ABCSSS islands from a variety of disciplines. In this meeting at USM, the researchers got together to share and brainstorm on ways to map how residents of the ABCSSS islands are coping with climate change, across the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, architecture, paleoenvironment, paleobotany, musicology, urban planning, political science, and water management.

May 2022 – DOW’s Musical Foundation with Dr. Charissa Granger

DMF hosted a lecture presented by Dr. Charissa Granger, steel pan researcher and musicologist lecturer at the University of the West Indies on the importance of music and steel pan, at the Philipsburg Cultural Center. Read more.

May 2022 – Workshop at Saba Comprehensive School

Lysanne Charles spoke with high school students and taught them about her research topic: When and Where Island(er)s Le(a)d: A Co-creative Approach to Sustainable Policy Development. Read more.

April 2022 – Paleoecology and Core Sampling Public Event in St. Maarten

The University of St. Martin (USM) invited the general public to attend an information session on research currently being carried out in both the Dutch and French territories of the island by Dr. Kees Nooren (Netherlands) and Dr. Jaime Pagán Jimenez (Puerto Rico). Read more.

April 2022 – Island(er)s at the Helm team pays a visit to Commissioner Saba

On Tuesday, April 5, Saba Commissioner for Culture Rolando Wilson welcomed a team of scientific researchers working at the Saba Heritage Center to discuss the potential impact of research findings. The Saba Heritage Center hosted  team members of the Island(er)s at the Helm research program. They are looking into the island’s deep past when Saba’s first inhabitants settled the areas of Plum Piece, Old Booby Hill, Black Rock and Fort Bay Ridge around 3,800 years ago, and the ensuing centuries when the island became more populated. Read more.

Jan 2022 – Island(er)s at the Helm digital kick-off meeting

In January 2022, Island(er)s at the Helm welcomed several new researchers to the team. In the week of 10 January, Island(er)s researchers got together to share research ideas and progress, to discuss plans across work packages and get to know each other. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, this meeting was organized online, instead of in St. Maarten as originally planned.

Jan 2022 – 32 children in Aruba participate in Island(er)s at the Helm school activity

Students of ages eight to twelve years old from the Montessori school in Aruba gathered at Ayo to visit the pictograph site with archaeologist and PhD candidate Harold Kelly (National Archaeological Museum Aruba). Together, they explored the Ayo Rock formation, got a tour of the pictographs and participated in an engaging discussion about heritage and climate change and how climate challenges affect their daily lives. Read more.

Nov 2021 – Prome dialogo publico relaciona cu investigacion di doctorado di e Isleñonan na Timon.

Harold Kelly ta investiga e efecto di cambio di clima riba bida diario desde antaño te awendia y con e ser humano a adapta na e cambio aki. Comunidad ta un fuente importante pa haya sa mas di e relacion entre cambio di clima y forma di biba. Pa esaki Harold Kelly hunto cu MANA ta organisa encuentronan cu partidonan interesa/stakeholders. Diahuebs 28 di october ultimo a tuma luga e prome sesion. Lesa mas.

SEPT 2021 – Twenty organizations participate in Island(er)s at the Helm’s first stakeholder meeting

On 14 September 2021, the Island(er)s at the Helm program hosted its first Kingdom-wide event with societal partners and other stakeholders. This meeting is the start of a five-year collaboration that brings together researchers and societal partners to use technical, traditional, and contemporary knowledge practices to study climate change adaptation. Working closely together, the Island(er)s at the Helm program will co-create sustainable and inclusive solutions for social adaptation to climate challenges in the (Dutch) Caribbean. Read more.

JULY 2021 – Three Dutch Caribbean PhD candidates in the NWO Island(er)s at the Helm project.

True to the name and their promise, the Island(er)s at the Helm project, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) programme Caribbean Research: A Multidisciplinary Approach, is employing CAS and BES islands researchers. Harold Kelly (Aruba), Lysanne Charles (Saba/St. Maarten), and Sharelly Emanuelson (Curaçao/Aruba) will be appointed from the 1st of September 2021 to work for four years on their PhD projects in relation to preparing the six Dutch Antillean islands for impending climate challenges. Read more.

JANUARY 2021 – ‘Island(er)s at the Helm’ awarded with funding from the NWO Caribbean Research programme

On January 7th Minister van Engelshoven of Education, Culture and Science of The Netherlands announced that the project Island(er)s at the Helm: Co-creating sustainable and inclusive solutions for social adaptation to climate challenges in the (Dutch) Caribbean is one of two projects awarded with funding from the NWO Caribbean Research programmeRead more.

APRIL 2020 – Island(er)s at the Helm Public Outreach Seminars

In preparation of a proposal for the Dutch Research Council’s (NWO) call for Caribbean multi-disciplinary research, Corinne Hofman (LU/KITLV) and Francio Guadeloupe (UvA/KITLV) visited the six Dutch Caribbean islands together with a team of researchers and societal partners to discuss their proposal on social adaptation to climate change challenges in the (Dutch) Caribbean with local stakeholders. Read more.

Island(er)s at the Helm in the media

Antilliaans Dagblad. Francio Guadeloupe & Tibisay Sankatsing Nava. Biba dushi den mal tempu. 9 May 2022.

Entrevista di Dia Hits100 FM na Aruba. Harold Kelly (archeologo), Dr. Francio Guadeloupe (antropologo) y Tibisay SN (science communication y community engagement coordinator) tokante “Island(er)s at the Helm”. 27 Jan 2022. Link Hits FM.

NWO Onderzoeksmagazine, rubriek Opgemerkt door Carel Stolker, ‘Klimaatadaptatie in de (voormalige) Nederlandse Cariben‘, 15 April 2021

Universiteit Leiden, ‘Embedding scientific research in the Caribbean with funding from NWO‘, 17 February 2021

Visit Aruba News, ‘Island(er)s at the Helm awarded funding from NWO‘, 10 February 2021

The Daily Herald, ‘Island(er)s at the Helm awarded funding from NWO‘, 10 February 2021

Curacao Chronicle, ‘Island(er)s at the Helm awarded funding from NWO‘, 10 February 2021

The Daily Herald, ‘Guadeloupe to co-chair research into climate resiliency at USM‘, 11 January 2021

Sint Maarten Agriculture, ‘Caribbean Research Program Chair assigned to Francio Guadeloupe‘, 9 January 2021

Saint Martin News Network, ‘Caribbean Research Programme chair assigned to Francio Guadeloupe‘, 9 January 2021

Paradise FM, ‘7 miljoen euro voor Caribische projecten‘, 7 January 2021

Universiteit van Amsterdam, ‘Grote impuls voor Uva-onderzoek in Cariben‘, 7 January 2021

2020

Project Newsletter, “Island(er)s at the Helm Public Outreach Seminars“, 31 March 2020

Xiomara Balentina, “The Western University in ‘Exotic Spaces’“, March 2020

Radiostation Nos Mainta interviews Francio Guadeloupe, Corinne Hofman, and Harold Kelly, March 2020 (01:06:38)

The Daily Herald, ‘Post-coloniality and decoloniality central at academic symposium‘, 29 February 2020

Academic partners

Island(er)s at the Helm is hosted by the Koninklijk Instituut van Taal, Land en Volkenkunde (KITLV/KNAW), the University of St. Martin and the University of the Virgin Islands.

Island(er)s at the Helm is funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) Caribbean Research programme.

Other academic partners include: Instituto Pedagogico Arubano, Inter-Continental University of the Caribbean (Curaçao), Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, TU Delft and Universiteit Utrecht. Island(er)s at the Helm is funded by the Dutch Research Council’s (NWO) Caribbean Research program.

Societal partners

The project also works closely together with a wide range of societal partners including non-governmental organizations, government and industry representatives from the Dutch Caribbean islands and the Netherlands.

Videos

Inclusivistrijd: Hoe we de verbinding terug vinden met de aarde en al haar inwoners

Designing Cities for All #35: Climate and the Kingdom event

UNESCO event on Community Participation for Local Climate Adaptation

Now You Know by Valerie van Putten with guest Dr. Francio Guadeloupe

Francio Guadeloupe about Islanders at the Helm at DCRW 2021

Island(er)s at the helm second online stakeholders meeting 23 March 2022

Photos

Island(er)s at the Helm team at Spaceless Gardens in St. Maarten, May 2022
The team has regular online meetings to exchange ideas and discuss theory.
Headline Daily Herald after stakeholder meeting at Axum Art Cafe, May 2022.
Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, Harold Kelly & Tibisay Sankatsing Nava in Aruba.
USM Natural Science students with Island(er)s researchers in the field in 2022.
Winning artwork Climate Change art competition by Tyler Johnson, Saba.
Core sampling activities by Island(er)s at the Helm researchers in 2022.
Dr. Francio Guadeloupe during stakeholder meeting at Saba Comprehensive School in 2020.
The preliminary research team preparing the proposal in Curaçao in 2020.
Group of researchers at the National Archaeological Museum Aruba in 2020
The preliminary research team in Statia after one of the first stakeholder meetings.
Presentations during initial stakeholder meetings in Saba in 2020,

Project updates

Dr. Charissa Granger gave the #beginningoftheyear lecture for University of St. Martin at the National Institute of the Arts in Aug 2022.

Dr. Francio Guadeloupe participated in a panel discussion on Working across the Atlantic: research collaboration in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

 

Public Meeting at Axum Art Cafe, Philipsburg, St. Maarten. An evening with short presentations, conversations, drinks and music on May 18 2022.