“Tis we ting, all a we” research presented to the Council of Ministers by Carla Vlaun

Ms. Carla Vlaun author of “Tis we ting, all a we” presented signed copies to the Council of Ministers of her self-published research paper, which captures the historical development of Carnival on Sint. Maarten.

A key finding of her research highlights the fact that Sint Maarten’s Carnival has managed to do something many national events in the Netherlands have failed to do. Without intention, Sint Maarten’s carnival embraces a multi- cultural setting by uniting people. It is a larger reflection of our economic and social reality of people with many different nationalities coming together and working together to keep the island afloat.

Ms. Vlaun attained her Masters in International Affairs at the Graduate Institute of Internal and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. She is now resides in the Netherlands and works for World Press Photo in Amsterdam.

During Ms Vlaun’s presentation to the Council of Ministers she explained, “I wanted to explore the role of the St. Maarten government in constructing what is now the island’s largest cultural event. The structure of carnival was implemented with a top-down approach but only managed this way for less than a decade before being handed over to civil society groups. And since Carnival is St. Maarten’s largest cultural event, I wanted to use it as a lens to understand conceptions of national identity. In order to do this, I had to first establish a point of entry as carnival has many moving parts that each would reflect different understandings, from calypsonians to troupe leaders to booth holders.”

“I wanted to focus on the historical development of carnival as a whole and decided that the best focal point would then be the carnival committees charged with constructing carnival since its inception in 1970. In my research, I sought to explore the following questions: What factors contributed to the establishment of carnival under the Oranje Committee?

How have subsequent Carnival committees further developed carnival and shaped its identity, whether as a site of Kingdom celebration, a manifestation of national identity, and/or an expression of Caribbean identity? How does the history of carnival in St. Maarten reflect or challenge broader debates surrounding national culture, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Caribbean?”

With this recent accomplishment of making her research in an accessible form Ms. Vlaun, has hopes to inspire other students abroad to share their research thesis projects. “By printing my research in an accessible form, I hope to push forward the discussion and inspire others to share their work. It is a major pitfall of academia in general, that academics do not interact with the communities they write about once their research is completed. I hope I can call on people creating work about St. Maarten to break this cycle and find a way to engage communities and government entities here with their research. I strongly believe this is something that should be structurally encouraged,” said Ms. Vlaun.

The emphasis should be placed specifically on research projects that surround documenting St. Maarten development, in order for local students to have material that they can use as sources of information for their own research projects.