Saint Martin


The Caribbean island St Martin, with a land area of about 90 km, is divided by an international border.' The northern part forms an integral part of the French Republic, the southern area belongs to the Netherlands Antilles, an autonomous constituent of the Dutch Kingdom. Despite the partition which exists already for 350 years, Martiners conceive themselves as one people. A people which shares a language (English), a national anthem, and many interests. In my paper I will describe St Martin as a special borderland case. Special because in this small demarcated space, centre and periphery overlap. The whole of St Martin may be conceived as a borderland. On the other hand, St Martin does not stand on its own, each of the two sections of the island forms part of a larger country. In this respect St Martin is like other borderlands, which are the peripheries of larger entities. I will indicate what makes St Martin a unity, and I will indicate that differences between the French and the Dutch part. It will become clear that the impact of the attachment to the centres, the two European states, forms a threat to the unity of the island. This impact increased concomitantly with the move towards unification in Europe. Luckily there are countervailing forces of which the awareness of the local population forms one of the elements.

How to Cite

Klomp, A., (2000) “Saint Martin”, Ethnologia Europaea 30(2), 73-86. doi:

Publisher Notes

  • This article was previously published by Museum Tusculanum Press.


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Ank Klomp (Utrecht University)



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