For me, “Knowledge Equity” means that everyone has equal access to reliable and unbiased knowledge that is relevant to them, in their context and for their lives. It also means that everyone has a say in which knowledge is presented on the Wikimedia-projects, and how. For the Netherlands in particular that knowledge held here, but very relevant for people in other parts of the world, is made accessible.
The Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the independent nations Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten, and the territories Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius) is underrepresented on the Wikimedia projects. And people from these parts are underrepresented in our Wiki communities, so their voices, perspectives and knowledge don’t come through. We are working with GLAM and education institutes in the Dutch Caribbean to develop partnerships, and are supporting the Papiamento Wikipedia. We are working with institutes in the Netherlands to share content. And we are reaching out to communities in the Netherlands and the Caribbean to become involved. Of course, anyone can contribute in theory, but not everyone feels empowered to do so.
To be clear – and this is crucial! – this project does not specifically focus on the colonial past. The six islands in the Caribbean are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands – so this is our political and constitutional present. Three of the islands have the status of Dutch municipalities (Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius), the other three are independent nations with King Willem Alexander as their head of state. Dutch is an official language on all islands, and Papiamentu on some of them. So the Dutch-speaking Wikipedia should serve them just as well as it serves the people in the Netherlands and in the Flemish part of Belgium. For people for whom Papiamento is the everyday language the situation is even worse. There are very few editors and their Wikipedia is small.
The recent discussions around the colonial past of the Netherlands are also becoming relevant to us, and issues such a slavery and racism are being reexamined. We see it too in the GLAM world, where the wording in labelling of paintings and artifacts is being reconsidered, and the Dutch role in slave trade is getting more attention.
We as an organisation learn a lot through this long-term project. Also for me personally, I am only now fully realising how little I know about parts of my own country and its history. We have started with small projects, learn from them, build them up as we go. But to achieve “Knowledge Equity” the Wikimedia communities in the Netherlands and elsewhere will still need to reflect and discuss a lot and to reexamine the basic concepts of the Wikimedia projects: neutrality, notability, sources, the ‘anyone can edit’ principle. Things are moving.
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